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Tree of heaven

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ailanthus ailanthus

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Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), commonly known as ailanthus, or in Standard Chinese as Chouchun is a deciduous tree in the Simaroubaceae family. It is native to both northeast and central China and Taiwan. Unlike other members of the genus Ailanthus, it is found in temperate climates rather than the tropics. The tree grows rapidly and is capable of reaching heights of 15 metres  in 25 years. However, the species is also short lived and rarely lives more than 50 years.

In China, the tree of heaven has a long and rich history. It was mentioned in the oldest extant Chinese dictionary and listed in countless Chinese medical texts for its purported ability to cure ailments ranging from mental illness to baldness. The roots, leaves and bark are still used today in traditional Chinese medicine, primarily as an astringent. The tree was first brought from China to Europe in the 1740. All parts of the plant have a distinguishing strong odour that is often likened to peanuts, cashews, or rotting cashews. The flowers are small and appear in large panicles up to 50 cm in length at the end of new shoots. The individual flowers are yellowish green to reddish in colour. The tree prefers moist and loamy soils, but is adaptable to a very wide range of soil conditions. It is drought-hardy, but not tolerant of flooding. It also does not tolerate deep shade. The tree of heaven is found within a wide range of climatic conditions. In its native range it is found at high altitudes in Taiwan as well as lower ones in mainland China. Prolonged cold and snow cover cause dieback, though the trees re-sprout from the roots.

Ailanthus is an opportunistic plant that thrives in full sun and disturbed areas. It spreads aggressively both by seeds and vegetatively by root sprouts, re-sprouting rapidly after being cut. It is considered a shade-intolerant tree and cannot compete in low-light situations, though it is sometimes found competing with hardwoods. The drought-tolerance of the tree is strong due to its ability to effectively store water in its root system. It is frequently found in areas where few trees can survive. The roots are also aggressive enough to cause damage to subterranean sewers and pipes. Along highways it often forms dense thickets in which few other tree species are present, largely due to the toxins it produces to prevent competition. Ailanthus produces an allelopathic chemical called ailanthone, which inhibits the growth of other plants. The inhibitors are strongest in the bark and roots, but are also present in the leaves, wood and seeds of the plant.

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30 seeds
Read 16317 times Last modified on Monday, 17 August 2020 10:41
45.00 HRK
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