Wednesday, August 19, 2009

By Any Other Name

Tree of Heaven, the tree which famously grows through the fictional cracks of Brooklyn pavement, is weighed down by large clusters of twisty seeds. Lime green and turning red, they ready themselves to fall to the ground and grow a whole new crop. Ironically named, this tree is known for its stinky spring flowers and its tenaciousness. Like many invasive plants (they are native to China), this one thrives on disturbed soils, and grows quite rapidly. It spreads not only by those seeds, but by root suckers. It is, I've heard, hard to get rid of, though I've never tried.


  1. So why is this plant called the tree of heaven?

  2. This common name comes from the scientific name, Ailanthus altissima. Ailanthus comes from the word ailanto, which means "heaven-tree" or "tree reaching for the sky." Altissima means tallest, as this is the tallest species in the genus. Other common names are ghetto palm, due to the fact that this is often the only tree to grow in inner-city areas, and stink tree, which really makes it sound great, no? (All information from Wilipedia, I didn't just know that.)