Tree of Heaven...or Hell?

Diposting oleh alexandria joseph | 02.00

This is a really fun tree to have around....or maybe not.  When I saw the title, I began to laugh because in some parts of our country, this plant grows like a weed!!!  In my home state of Wisconsin, I've seen this plant take off.  Here in Tucson, it's no threat.  It can take the heat and if permitted, it will spread with an invasive root structure.  Personally I love this plant and put it in a side garden near the parking lot. The area is contained and the plant can't go anywhere.  I'm not really sure what to do with that space and I'm hoping that this plant will spread out over the area and take over through the vegetative sprout process.  The first year, I didn't really see any progress, but it is around 3 years old now and has put on height and put out several little sprouts. In summer, it has a beautiful tropical look and in winter, it will lose its leaves.  However, at the end of March or beginning of April, this tree will start leafing out and growing.  In spring, the Tree of Heaven and Ash Tree will put on some height.....and then stop until the next season. There is a place in Arizona overtaken by this plant and that's where I got the idea for using the Tree of Heaven.  The town is Jerome and one of these days I'll take my camera and do a shoot in this popular mining ghost town. Most importantly this plant is considered invasive in many disturbed areas around the US and other countries and I think you should keep that in mind when putting it into the ground.  Some would say, "Don't do it."  It's not native and was introduced by a Philadelphia Gardener in 1784.  This plant has a lot of history and a lot of information. In Tucson, I don't see this plant as a problem because our ground is clay and hard so the plant can't spread too far.  However, if you break up the soil around garden areas, it will spread out.  Several areas near the downtown area have fantastic examples of this plant growing in groves.  I'll be looks nice. Here is some information on this both loved and hated plant that originates from China......

"The tree occurs as male and female, it can reproduce sexually (seeds) and asexually (vegetative sprouts) seeds are produced by the female trees in late summer to early fall. Can produce up to 350,000 seeds per tree yearly. Seedlings establish a taproot three months from germination. Established trees produce suckers from roots and re-sprout from cut stumps and root fragments.  Crushed leaves smell like burnt peanut butter. The plant produces a toxin in its bark and leaves which accumulates in the soil which inhibits growth of other plants." Good to know.  Source:

Not everything about this tree is bad.  The silkworm needs this tree.  Interesting note from a previous post and perhaps just a question.  Why is the silkmoth attracted to two trees that are considered obnoxious by gardeners in the landscape? The other tree is the mulberry:) Hey, people use silk so these trees aren't all that bad. The wood is also used plus this tree has medicinal value.  Things like dysentery, intestinal hemorrage, and cardiac palpitation can be treated with this plant and today the Chinese still use the Tree of Heaven for these ailments and more! Overall, I think it's poisoness:)

One last note before I leave you to judge me for an irresponsible post on an invasive plant:) This tree has been used across America and in other countries to absorb the pollution of large cities and mining areas. "Ailanthus is among the most pollution-tolerant of tree species, including sulfur dioxide, which it absorbs in its leaves. It can withstand cement dust and fumes from coal tar operations, as well as resist ozone exposure relatively well. Furthermore, high concentrations of mercury have been found built up in tissues of the plant. Ailanthus has been used to re-vegetate areas where acid mine drainage has occurred and it has been shown to tolerate pH levels as low as 4.1 (approximately that of tomato juice). It can withstand very low phosphorus levels and high salinity levels. The drought-tolerance of the tree is strong due to its ability to effectively store water in its root system.  It is frequently found in areas where few trees can survive. The roots are also aggressive enough to cause damage to subterranean sewers and pipes. Along highways it often forms dense thickets in which few other tree species are present, largely due to the toxins it produces to prevent competition." End of article. Source and for a much more comprehensive read on this plant......

Could this tree be the cockroach, pigeon, or Cher of the plant world? A tree that survives a nuclear holocaust? Is this a tree for Tucson?  I'm not going to answer that question.  I purchased my plant from Mesquite Valley and love it.  It grows in Tucson and that's all I'm going to say:)

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