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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ailanthus altissima - Tree of Heaven

The tree of heaven, what a funny name and I suspect that most horticulturalist think it might be from that other area. Very fast growing, 50+ feet in cultivation. Can actually look pretty nice but often it's lopsided. Weak wooded and weedy to boot. This is the tree that grew in NY city, in the sidewalk cracks. 


Leaves are deciduous, pinnately compound, 1-2' long, with 11-25+ ovate to lanceolate 1-2" long leaflets have entire margins except for a couple of teeth at the base and a distinct gland on one of the teeth. Leaves are dark green with a whitish underside. 



Distinct gland on the one side of the leaf base.



Trees are dioecious, male and female trees. Small yellowish green flowers in the spring. Male flowers smell bad when open. 



Bark is smooth when younger but developing shallow fissures. Stems are thick, reddish colored and have heart shaped leaf scars. 




The fruit found on females only is a samara, about 1" long and is twisted so it spins when it drops to the ground. The female trees look their best when covered with red fruit.



Misidentification:
Perhaps Koelreuteria, either can have similar looking foliage.
Reader suggests Rhus typhina as well. I agree, we don't see them here but in colder climates for sure. Rhus typhina has very hairy stems and more deeply dissected leaf margins. Attractive plant in the fall. Thanks for the feedback.

Location:
Aptos
Soquel Dr at Capitola Rd

Santa Cruz
Some on Chestnut heading up the hill toward Mission, no address, just in the wild area there.

Watsonville
121 Carey Rd. (corner of Carey and GreenValley Rd)

1 comment:

  1. Misidentification: Rhus typhina, at least here in Hungary

    ReplyDelete