What is Ailanthus altissima?

Ailanthus is a deciduous tree in the family Simaroubaceae. It truly is native to both northeast and central China, together with Taiwan. Unlike other members of the genus Ailanthus, it really is found in temperate climates instead of the tropics. The tree grows rapidly and is capable of reaching heights of 15 metres (49 ft) in 25 years. As the species rarely lives more than 50 years, some specimens exceed a hundred years old. Its impressive suckering ability allows for this tree to clone itself almost indefinitely. It truly is considered a noxious weed and vigorous invasive species.

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In China, the tree of heaven carries a long and rich history. It turned out mentioned in the oldest extant Chinese dictionary and listed in many Chinese medical texts as a result of its purported curative ability. The roots, leaves and bark are being used in traditional Chinese medicine, mostly as an astringent. The tree has been grown extensively both in China and abroad as a bunch plant for the ailanthus silkmoth, a moth involved with silk production.[1] Ailanthus has turned into a part of western culture aswell, with the tree serving as the central metaphor and written content of the best-selling American novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

The tree was in the beginning brought from China to Europe in the 1740s and america in 1784. It had been one of the primary trees brought west throughout a time when chinoiserie was dominating European arts, and was initially hailed as a pleasant garden specimen. However, enthusiasm soon waned after gardeners became acquainted with its suckering habits and its particular foul smelling odor. And in addition, it turned out used extensively as a street tree during much of the 19th century. Outside Europe and america the plant has been spread to many the areas beyond its native range. In a number of these, it has become an invasive species as a result of its ability both to colonize disturbed areas quickly and suppress competition with allelopathic chemicals. It truly is considered a noxious weed in Australia, america, New Zealand and many countries of central, eastern and southern Europe. The tree also resprouts vigorously when cut, making its eradication difficult and time-consuming. It has resulted in the tree being called “tree of hell” among gardeners and conservationists.

Confusion in naming began when the tree was described by all three men with three different names. In Paris, Linnaeus gave the plant the name Rhus succedanea, although it was known commonly as grand vernis du Japon. In London the specimens were named by Miller as Toxicodendron altissima and in Busbridge it was dubbed in the old classification system as Rhus Sinese foliis alatis. There are extant records from the 1750s of disputes over the correct name between Philip Miller and John Ellis, curator of Webb’s garden in Busbridge. As opposed to the issue being resolved, more names soon appeared for the plant: Jakob Friedrich Ehrhart observed a specimen in Utrecht in 1782 and named it Rhus cacodendron.