Tree of Heaven / Hell

Ailanthus roots
Ailanthus roots

When I was in high school, my biology teacher gave us an assignment to get us better acquainted with the native flora of our city. She had us make an album of preserved leaves from 12 different trees, to be chosen from a list she provided. On that list was Ailanthus, or the Tree of Heaven – a tree that I’d never even heard of at the time. Water oaks and Silver Maples were easy to find, but I remember hunting all over town for a Tree of Heaven, which seemed like a glorious adventure.

Now that I’ve moved to Virginia, I can’t seem to escape this tree. To my great consternation, my neighbor has a towering specimen just 20 feet from my property line, and there is another one in the woods that extend beyond my back fence. Thus, every year I must fight the suckers and invasive roots that creep into my garden. They are thick, and yellow, and they are a pain to excise.

My sympathies to all who must deal with this awful tree.

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