Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tree of heaven

Originally imported from China to England in the mid-18th century, this fast growing, aggressive and invasive tree is now naturalized over much of southern Europe, Canada and North America. It grows in dense stands of slender saplings or as a single specimen to 40 ft(12 m) tall. When bruised or crushed the leaves and flowers of male trees have a strong, unpleasant odor. Female trees bear thousands of winged seedpods in large clusters and turn an attractive reddish brown color in late summer. The tropical looking foliage is shed in autumn and the tree is leafless over winter. Tree of heaven is short lived and the wood is brittle but sprouts grow vigorously from the roots and stump. Once established this species is very difficult to eradicate. Grows along roadsides and disturbed or abandoned areas.

Scientific name: Ailanthus altissima
Italian common name: Ailanto, Albero del paradiso
English common name: Tree of heaven

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