Tree of Heaven-Ailanthus

populus at populus at
Sun Nov 26 00:28:25 EST 1995

>   r5m at (R5M) writes:
>  In article <71331.kunde001 at>,
>  "kunde001 at" <kunde001 at> writes:
>  >While this "weed" grows unrivaled in areas 
>  >where concrete is abundant, I have only once found it growing in the
>  woods 
>  >and that was out of the cracked foundation of a long abandonded home.  
>  Hmmm, you know, I had not even thought about this.  Here in N. California
>  it is known as the Chinese Tree of Heaven because everywhere there is,was
>  a Chinese settlement this tree can be found. So, in the delta, in San
>  Francisco, and in the Gold Country this tree can be seen all along the
>  highways.  But now that you mention it, when getting back into the
>  indigenous growth, there is no Tree of Heaven.  It does seem to live
>  everywhere dosn't it.  After all, it is the Tree that Grows in Brooklyn,
>  now isn't it.
>  Becky, R5M at

In  the eastern United States, Ailanthus altissima escapes are
 common in heavily disturbed areas.  In Berea School Forest,  in Eastern Kentucky,
 for example, there are several vigorous stands of Ailanthus growing on slopes which experienced
a hot fire in 1987.  Ailanthus is intolerant and seems to prefer bare mineral substrate, so it will only be found
in forests after substantial disturbance.   In central Kentucky, it is becoming common along fencerows, particularly
near Shakertown in the Bluegrass.  Ailanthus occurs patchily all along the lower slopes of the Appalachians, and also 
on the coastal plain. 

In the long run, Ailanthus (as well as Paulownia, another common escaped tree in the east) will probably become
a small component of any heavily disturbed forested area in the east.  It is  not aggresive enough to be a significant
weed problem in forest management.

I have seen it naturalized in southern California, but it seems to be less common there.  

Here in Malaysia, Ailanthus triphysa is native in the North, and planted as an ornamental
 further south, but I've never seen it as an escape.

Dr. Thomas W. Kimmerer
University of Kentucky 

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