Urban i

City and Self

The Ghetto Palm

aka Weed Trees, aka The Tree of Heaven

Ghetto Palm growing up in my backyard

Ghetto Palm growing up in my backyard

I’ve had many discussions with friends about their love / hate relationship with these pesky urban-infill trees that seem to sprout out of anywhere and grow inches a day!

Ailanthus glandulosa was originally brought over from by a gardener in Philadelphia in 1780 and into California during the 1800’s from China, it’s native land.  The tree is amazingly resilient and with its leafy palm like leaves, provides greenery and shade.  It can reproduce through the abundant seed pods it releases and through roots, but a chemical that the tree produces prevents and kills other plants nearby.  These tricky roots are also notorious for creeping into sewers, pipes and foundations.

Tree of Heaven sprouting up between a grate along a bridge over Cherry Creek

Tree of Heaven sprouting up between the mesh of a grate along a bridge over Cherry Creek

Now this plant is considered an invasive species, a noxious weed and prohibited in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.  Here in Colorado this species is not listed on the Invasive / Noxious Plants list, but still is a problem in many Denver neighborhoods.

For me… the jury is still out, I love the shade and the green in the city, but that’s only because I haven’t had to pay to fix a pipe or foundation destroyed by the roots!   (their seeds and pollen are also a pain to clean off of patios)

Oh, and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” that would be a Tree of Heaven!

Fence built around two trunks of a Tree of Heaven that sprouted up along our property line

Fence built around two trunks of a Tree of Heaven that sprouted up along our property line

 

REFERENCE:

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group

The Nature Conservancy

and a special thanks to Cheryl Bicknell for sending over some resources!

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