Ailanthus: plant, properties and useful information. Ailanthus as a weed (to be eliminated) or as an ornamental tree.
L'ailanthusit can be considered an "alien species" here in Italy. It is not native to our areas and was imported to Europe for the first time in 1740. It comes from China where it is popular for itspropertymedicines.
If here in Italy, it is also known as "tree of heaven", in China, its second name is chouchun, literally "stinking tree", while in many areas of America it is known as "tree of hell", a related name the bad smell produced by the plant.
Its scientific name isAilanthus altssima,this plant can reach a height between 17 and 27 meters with the stem able to grow up to 1 meter in diameter.
The bark is smooth, light gray. As the tree ages, the bark begins to be rougher. The branches are reddish or brown, pubescent, smooth and sturdy. When a leaf falls, a sort of "scar" called a lenticel remains on the branch, showing itself as a small heart-shaped spot.
All parts of the plant give off a characteristic odor described as "the smell of rotten peanuts".
This plant grows well in full sun and hardly tolerates heavily shaded areas.
It is a very tolerant plant to pollution, including nitrogen dioxide that it absorbs from the leaf blade. It resists fine dust, cement vapors, residues from tar or coal processing and can accumulate high concentrations of mercury in its tissues. Due to these characteristics, ailanthus has been used to re-vegetate areas that have been heavily contaminated by environmental disasters and acid drainage.
Ailanthus: properties and benefits
It is used as a host plant to feed silkworms. Due to its rapid growth it is used for the production of wood. It is considered an ornamental tree that is highly appreciated in China while here in Italy its cultivation is linked to the production of honey. It has medicinal properties: it is included in the list of species used in theTraditional Chinese Medicine.
One of the oldest recipes that aims to exploit the property of ailanthus dates back to 684 A.D. In China its preparations were used for the treatment of severalmental disordersand to relieve abscesses and itching.
An ancient Chinese natural remedy saw the use of ailanthus leaves to prepare a remedy to combat baldness (together with the catalpa, it would improve superficial blood circulation, recalling blood and nutrients to stimulate hair regrowth).
If the above remedies belong to the past, still today, in China, the bark of ailanthus is used. The ailanthus bark, according to modern Chinese medicine, has astringent and stimulating properties. It is used to counteract diarrhea, against colds.
Among its active ingredients there is also an antimalarial agent. A tincture prepared from the bark of ailanthus is used effectively in the treatment of heart palpitation, asthma and epilepsy.
Ailanthus: poisonous plant
Is ailanthus a poisonous plant? Yup.
Although thepropertyof ailanthus are many (so much so that this plant also sees pharmaceutical uses), it is important to remember that any form of do-it-yourself is not recommended. This plant, in fact, istoxic. Hertoxicityis linked to a long list of substances such as saponins, aliantins, quassins ... Due to its toxicity, ailanthus is now prescribed in small quantities, never exceeding 10 g. although generally between 4 and 8 grams.
The tree grows rapidly until it reaches 15 meters in height. There are several kinds ofailanthusin our area and, in particular, the ailantus altissima (common ailanthus) or tree of paradise, can be considered aweed.
As a weed, the ailanthus it grows in the interstices of building constructions, between one brick and another, in the external cracks of the walls ... its growth strongly undermines the stability of the entire building. This plant, in fact, can quickly reach 15 meters in height.
Because it is considered oneweed?
Not only because it grows between the interstices but also because this plant has a remarkable reproductive capacity: several offspring trees reproduce quickly from the mother tree with propagation by suckers. This plant spreads aggressively by both seed and suckers.
As if that weren't enough, this plant produces an allelopathic chemical known asailantone. Ailanthone inhibits the growth of other plants. Extracts from barks and roots can be used to inhibit the growth of other weeds.
Not only in Italy, it is also considered one in the United States, New Zealand and Australia invasive speciesdifficult to control. Its eradication is difficult because the tree vigorously shoots back if cut.
How to eliminate ailanthus?
The tree of paradise is difficult to permanently eliminate if the roots are not removed. It is not enough to cut the stem, even if it is very small, this will be able to resume revegetating. To eliminate the ailanthus it is necessary to uproot the plant, paying attention to eliminate any vegetative bud and the entire root system.
Ailanthus honey is appreciated for its fruity aroma, similar to figs and muscat grapes. It has a strong taste so that it can be easily combined with fruit salads and ice cream.