Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tree of Heaven, more like tree of ____!

In honor of Invasive Species Month, here 's another invader that's no good. It's called the Tree of Heaven, but it really should be called the tree of #*!^

What is Tree of Heaven?
The tree of heaven is a rapidly growing, typically small tree up to 80 ft. in height and 6 ft. in diameter. It has pinnately compound leaves that are 1-4 ft. in length with 10-41 leaflets. Flowering occurs in early summer, when large clusters of yellow flowers develop above the leaves. Fruit produced on female plants are tan to reddish, single winged and wind and water-dispersed. Tree of heaven resembles the sumacs and hickories, but is easily distinguished by the glandular, notched base on each leaflet and large leaf scars on the twigs.

It is extremely tolerant of poor soil conditions and can even grow in cement cracks. Trees are not shade tolerant, but thrive in disturbed forests or edges. Dense clonal thickets displace native species and can rapidly take over fields, meadows and harvested forests. Tree of heaven, native to Asia, was first introduced into North America in 1748 by a Pennsylvania gardener. It was widely planted in cities because of its ability to grow in poor conditions.

Why is it bad?

Tree of Heaven is bad for many reasons. The reasons I find most bothersome are the odor and mess associated with this tree. My neighbor had these trees and it stunk so much, I didn't want to go outside. The smell has been described as fetid, skunklike, similar to cat urine or spraying, rotting peanuts. I was just really, really bad.

Tree of Heaven also procude flowers. These flowers drop seeds, lots of seeds. 325,000 of them. They too smell awful, and they will blanket every surface -- plants, water, patio, tables, chairs.

Want some more evidence of their evilness? Ailanthus spreads like crazy. You see babies popping up all over, by seed and by suckers (a double whammy). Once you start to notice, you'll see them everywhere.

As if that's not enough, tree of heaven heaves sidewalks and the leaves and bark have a toxin that keeps other plants from growing around it.

Other negatives include weak wood that could fall down on your house, or children and the chemical substances produced by allolepathy in the tree. The allolpathy mechanism is called allelochemicals. When the allelochemicals are released into the environment, they are very toxic to some kinds of plants. The toxicity of the tree of heaven is the ability to inhibit neighboring plant's root growth and seed germination. That is why it is always found that the tree-of-heaven is an isolated tree community, which implies that no other plant can be found closed or around this tree community.

How to get rid of this heaven sent tree

You can get rid of this tree manually, mechanically, or chemically. We recommend contacting your local tree care specialist, like the certified arborists at Trees "R" Us, Inc. and let them decide the best course of action based on the number and sizes of the trees. Trees "R" Us, Inc. services the north shore of Chicago and the surrounding northwest suburbs. We have lots of experience treating Tree of Heaven infestations. You can trust your trees to Trees "R" Us, Inc.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thanks.....I had no idea of just how nasty this tree was but only knew that we had one professionally removed back in the eighties from right in front of our front door and picture windows on Salt Lake City. I knew it made an awful mess I'm the spring when it flowered and I knew it made me sick, but I thought it was an allergy, not toxins. I live in southern Idaho now, These are all over the place, along the streets in the downtown area, where they shed those flowers like inches of fresh yellowish snow in the spring.