Friday, October 4, 2013

Don’t plant this…

Earlier in the week a rare sun break in the nearly consistent downpour we’ve been enduring (wettest September on record!) had me on a leisurely dog walk around the neighborhood.

I was startled to see this…

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), have you heard of it? It’s not something you want to ever ever plant, or have a neighbor plant. I swear just last week these were not all here.

But they are very much here now, and will only be getting bigger.

This land is owned by Portland Public Schools, but has been sitting vacant for awhile. I see a forest in its future.

Want to learn more? Visit the blog Portland Tree Tour where Julie shares some frightening photos of this hideous tree.

What’s frightening you in your neighborhood?

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

56 comments:

  1. I see those all over too - I always thought they were baby black walnut trees. Many of the crosswalks on the busy streets near my house have those popping up in them blocking the views of the people crossing. I always feel like I should pop out and cut them down.

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    1. Yikes, blocking views...that's not good. Almost sounds like tougher measures are called for (yes, I mean chemicals).

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  2. Christopher Lloyd has an impressive Ailanthus at Great Dixter that was coppiced to encourage it to send out enormous new leaves. It was planted in his famous Exotic Garden.
    But I was surprised he grew it knowing of its invasive roots and toxic leaves. In far Nor Cal, Ailanthus were planted by miners and cattlemen to quickly shade their cabins and grow in every vacant lot. Cutting down the main trunk encourages the roots to sucker over large areas and the seedlings invade gravel bars and seasonal washes.

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    1. Christopher Lloyd? Interesting....

      A couple of trees were taken out a few years back, behind that fence. No doubt this is the plants method of survival.

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  3. yes, that is starting to take over around here as well. Nasty, nasty, nasty, nasty.

    How about a discreet spray of brush killer when no one is looking?

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    1. It's Oregon...they're always looking!!! Seriously though that's what's needed.

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  4. Holy Moly! That is scary. I hadn't heard of it, but now I'm really glad I've seen your post.

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    1. I bet now that you're "aware" you'll start to see it everywhere.

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  5. Actually, what's frightening me most is the number of neighbors who are having their lateral sewer lines replaced. That's the line that goes from your house to the main sewer line, and for most houses in my area it goes through the front yard toward the street. Because I'm downhill from the street though, my line goes through my back yard, with lots of good stuff growing over it. No idea how they're going to repair mine.

    (You asked)

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    1. That's nightmare material for sure! Our sewer line was replaced when we bought the house (8 yrs ago), so hopefully (knocking on wood) that's okay. What's been happening in our neighborhood though is the water-line has been going. All of a sudden a geyser develops in your front yard and you've got to get the whole thing replaced out to the street. Terror.

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  6. An Ailanthus was the tenacious embodiment of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", so it's not surprising it's so persistent. I see pokeweed growing unchecked in many gardens. It's another attractive, quick-growing spreader that people don't know much about.

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    1. Are you tempted to tell people to watch out? I sometimes want to but then again don't want to come across as a self righteous know-it-all either.

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  7. I notice these trees everywhere in Portland. The uninformed just think they have a nice volunteer tree in their yard. I was told once that they came here from China, possibly from immigrants who adore them in their own country and hence, named them Tree of Heaven. Tree from Hell is more like it.

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    1. I was surprised to see them in London, they are going to take over the planet!

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  8. OOOH Scary just in time for Hallowen! My unkempt parking strips are the scariest things in my neighborhood other than the folks who sit out there and drink.

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    1. I should have put googly eyes on them!

      You parking strips are not scary, they're gorgeous. Well except for the drunks.

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  9. Privets! We have both of these stupid trees everywhere in our town. I've spent years cutting and removing them. We have a giant 30' privet on a neighbors side that towers over our roof. Roof now rotting on that side from shade and debris that was ignored prior to us. I offered to pay to remove the tree, but he said he liked it. So I just have to pay to have it cut twice a year. Dusty seed debris, leaves that don't fall all at once, just all year round. Arg.

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    1. Oh god...you're making me all excited about the plans to remove our privet, I just hope our neighbors are excited about it like you would be. Since it's on our property line. I think the scent of its blossoms are what I dislike the most.

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  10. That plant is so pretty. Too bad it's so unmannerly. My neighbor planted running bamboo a few years ago. This spring, two gigantic corms hopped the fence into my garden. This winter, I'll be digging and putting down a barrier of some kind. There ought to be a law.

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    1. Yikes! That's not very neighborly.

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    2. Same here, except it was in the ground before we moved in. They keep the top trimmed (so it's *only* about 3 metres tall), but it's very unattractive after that and runs the length of one of our side fences, and is pushing the fence over. It is so dense and such a prolific grower, and it does frustrate me when I stop and think about it. What to do though?! I've had to poison the culms that have popped up.

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  11. Hackberry trees, they throw seeds everywhere and grow like weeds! They are a native tree, but not something I want in my garden beds.

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  12. Hi from Greece , we have the same problem with this useless tree.They grow everywhere and the diasapearing very hard.Here they also called niff-nut tree because of his dirty smell

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    1. See they are going to take over the world!!!

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  13. The scariest thing in our neighborhood is a certain neighbor. I am told that before we moved here the other neighbors occasionally had meetings to discuss how to deal with him, but obviously no brilliant tactics surfaced.

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    1. Oh ricki that sounds horrible! I hope he's not dangerous.

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  14. OMG!!! I have been fighting this booger for two, maybe three years now. It's winning this year because I've had some health issues that have taken me out of the yard. Neighborhood streets across a main avenue are lined with this tree from hell, and have somehow come to my side yard. I am afraid I am going to have to resort to chemicals nor that I know what it is and its suckering ways.

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    1. I am 99% chemical free but I firmly believe there is a time they are needed. This just might be it. Good luck.

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  15. The scariest thing in my neighborhood is the vacant-house-next-door's 20 ft butterfly bush surrounded by Himalayan blackberries with morning glory growing throughout.

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    1. Stop you're gonna give me nightmares!!!

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  16. We had one of these trees next to the garage when we moved in. It took 3-4 years of hacking and digging to finally get rid of it. I hate the rotten smell it gives off. Yuck!

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    1. Congratulations on your eradication success!

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  17. Yikes, that situation looks serious -- must have been a mature tree taken out and the root system is sending up shoots one hundred fold. I usually don't see it sprouting from seed so successfully in sod. Don't get me started on this. I've had to exercise rigorous self restraint to keep my blog from becoming an Ailanthus Rant. :)

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    1. You're correct, there were two trees taken out.

      (maybe you need to start a second blog!)

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  18. It turns out that there is an "Oregon Invasive Species Hotline" where you can call or report on their site: http://oregoninvasiveshotline.org/ . No word if they accept tips about Commies .

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    1. Thanks Tal, this is good to know about.

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  19. Mine would have to be a plant that pops up everywhere near here - castor oil plant! I wish I had taken a photo of the vacant lot next door to show just how many there are, but the new owners came a few weekends ago and cut them down as they had really gotten out of control. There's one I haven't been able to reach to pull out that's wedged between the shed and fence, behind some cacti... your day will come! It baffles me that they appear out of nowhere - I must look into that and see if maybe the seeds stay in the ground until the following year or something, as I've never seen a mature plant, they seem to die off after going to seed in a season's time.

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    1. I can picture it! I saw fields and fields of them in Southern California, beautiful and a little disturbing at the same time.

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  20. My neighbours do have that tree and it routinely pops up in our yard! Yikes! I yank them out really quick but they are for sure frightening. There is also some noxiously invasive bamboo growing along the fence that has been taking over the yard with a vengeance. And to make matters worse, bishops weed! It is a true nightmare.

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    1. Oh I'm sorry Louis, that sucks! You've got a trifecta of nasty.

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  21. That tree is a thug here as well.

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    1. This is really starting to scare me!

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  22. I got some bad news guys--- "it's an invasive"
    Here in Va Beach - all the way on the other side of the country, we have them too. And they grow 80 feet tall.
    From China.

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  23. I totally agree. Strangely, they don't grow here in Houston...I know of 3 or four rare trees here in our city and they never have babies. It's so weird. My worst story about this tree is one I read about in Boston. The thing kept growing up through the cracks outside a dry cleaners. It like all the warmth from their outside vent. They could NOT get rid of the tree or the roots until they finally DUG UP the sidewalk. Imagine that! Some say they could survive a nuclear bomb. David/:0)

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    1. Kudzu and bishops week and this. The future looks scary.

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  24. It is very invasive here in Alabama too although I rarely see it.

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    1. We were just talking about Alabama moments ago, I know...a little off topic to say but it was odd to have that discussion and then see your comment.

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  25. I've seen these trees here too, although I don't recall noticing the rapid growth you describe. Maybe our drought helps to slow that down. The heavy production of mimosa seedlings in my own backyard (and front yard, and slope and vegetable patch...) scares me almost as much.

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    1. We certainly can't claim anything resembling a drought so you're probably right that the rains help it along in its quest to own the world.

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  26. I see that tree out here in the burbs too! The black walnuts are dropping bombs all over my front flower beds. I cringe. They are slimy and smash up my pretty petals. But they also provide a lot of food for the birds and wild life.

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  27. It seems the reputation is true. It's not so much of a problem here...yet but I've seen one or two growing in odd places much like buddleia does.

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  28. Melia azedarach, Chinaberry is rampant along woods' edges here. Its only redeeming feature is how hummingbirds disappear from the garden when the Chineyberries bloom, drunk on Melia nectar. Chinaberries tend to form colonies but are short lived and susceptible to fire when we have controlled burns in the meadows.

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  29. I confess this is one of the few hardy trees I like. A mature one, loaded with ripe seed, can be beautiful, and here in Denver, where they're all over the place, it looks less ridiculous than all those eastern shade trees people insist on planting.
    Back in the days when I grew a lot of perennials, I visited a garden where some had seeded in, the way they do, and I begged the owner for a seedling, since I wanted to stool it like they do at Great Dixter, but the owner refused to let me have it.
    It doesn't smell worse than people with their body sprays, anyway.

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  30. Our worst offender in the weed tree department is the Elm--Chinese Elm? Evergreen Elm?--beautiful tree, but it drops so many seeds in our yard, and after our recent Santa Ana winds, the Elm seeds are everywhere, including all of my pots. It's in the parking strip, so it's considered a street tree, so even if we wanted to get rid of it, the city wouldn't let us. But the scariest thing I see in my town is BAD TREE PRUNING! In the parking lot of an office complex, the branches have been hacked back to stubs, and in the parking lot of a shopping center, they cut them back so much that now that they've got leaves again, they really do look like lollipop trees. --Janis--

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