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Ailanthus Tree-of-heaven Chinese Sumac

Sparsely and locally naturalized in southern Ontario, New England, and


A native of China; first introduced into the United States on an

extensive scale in 1820 at Flushing, Long Island; afterwards

disseminated by nursery plants and by seed distributed from the

Agricultural Department at Washington. Its rapid growth, ability to

withstand considerable variations in temperature, and its dark luxuriant

foliage made it a great favorite for shade and ornament. It was planted

extensively in Philadelphia and New York, and generally throughout the

eastern sections of the country. When these trees began to fill the

ground with suckers and the vile-scented sterile flowers poisoned the

balmy air of June and the water in the cisterns, occasioning many

distressing cases of nausea, a reaction set in and hundreds of trees

were cut down. The female trees, against the blossoms of which no such

objection lay, were allowed to grow, and have often attained a height of

50-75 feet, with a trunk diameter of 3-5 feet. The fruit is very

beautiful, consisting of profuse clusters of delicate pinkish or

greenish keys.

The tree is easily distinguished by its ill-scented compound leaves,

often 2-3 feet long, by the numerous leaflets, sometimes exceeding 40,

each ovate, or ovate-lanceolate, with one or two teeth near the base, by

its vigorous growth from suckers, and in winter by the coarse, blunt

shoots and conspicuous, heart-shaped leaf-scars.

Next: Anacardiaceae Sumac Family

Previous: Simarubaceae Ailanthus Family

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