Tree of Heaven

Location: volunteer on wooded south slopes, Strong Hall, SE window well
Approximate blooming period: June

Ailanthus altissima

Origin: China
Habitat: Hardy to USDA Zone 4
Height and Form: 40-60 ft (12-18 m), Deciduous tree, upright spreading to shrubby. Bark is grayish and slightly roughened. The most adaptable and pollution tolerant tree available withstanding soot, grime, and pollution of cities, where it is common.  It spreads by seeds and root suckers; its root system is aggressive enough to cause damage to sewers and foundations. Suckers may appear as much as 150 ft (45 m) from the trunk (Jacobson, 1996).    
Foliage and Bark: Leaves alternate, pinnately compound, large: 50-60 cm long
Flowers, Fruit and Seeds: Flowers small, yellow-green, in 20-40 cm long clusters, male flowers have a repulsive odor (hence its Chinese common name is Stinking Chun). Fruit (samara) 4 cm long, often bright orange-red then finally brown, persist into winter. 
Name: also known as China-sumac, Varnishtree. Ailanthus: from ailanto, an Indonesian name for A. molucuanna or A. intergrifolia, meaning Tree of Heaven, or 'Reaching for the Sky', referring to tree height.  Also a Latin superlative meaning very high or tallest; altissima: from alta, high.

A. altissima f. erythrocarpa, produces "bright red seeds".

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