Recently in ailanthus Category

super fruit

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Lookie what's ripening on the trees!

An ailanthus down the street is making some funny little clusters of fruit.


These look like little tadpoles or something. And there are TONS of them. Not surprising that the super tree is a BIG producer of fruit. The ailanthus by our parking spot, however, has none of these.... I think I just learned something else about the ailanthus: it's got male and female trees. Congratulations, it's a boy!

Right next to my boy ailanthus is a tree I tried to identify back in the spring. From looking at the leaves, I'd guessed it might be a chestnut. But now that I can see the fruit, I think I have to change my mind.


That there is black walnut fruit! So says my favorite tree id site, What Tree is It?


Hmmm... not edible. Good to know!

If I'd thought about it, I could have guessed that it wasn't a chestnut, because I'm already watching a chestnut and it has the cool spiky, blotchy fruits on it right now. Here are the chestnut fruits last week, about two weeks after I first noticed them starting to change.


Fruits are so cool!

has super tree met its match?

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The ailanthus tree by our parking space has had a whole month and a half to grow since I've checked in on it. Given its ability to grow in leaps and bounds, I was expecting some real changes.

The little sprouts that had just started growing across the driveway in June...

ailanthus6_23c.jpg look like this:


That's what I'm talking about! Taking over, world domination and all that.

And the new growth on the ailanthus tree itself -- outlined below in green so you can see it -- was already over 3 feet high in June and now is...




Oh my! It's just broken off right there. There's no sign of the new branch on the ground anywhere. Apparently the super tree does have a kryptonite. But what was it? Wind? Rain? An animal? Kids?

ailanthus: supertree

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"Up in the sky, look! It's a plane. It's a bird. It's Ailanthus!"

The ailanthus tree by our parking space is clearly some sort of super tree.

"Faster than a speeding bullet!"

The new green shoot - that I estimated was 1 1/2 feet high on June 7th - has doubled in height in three weeks.


"More powerful than a locomotive!"

There are also two entire new plants that have somehow managed to grow right out of the concrete on the side of the house.


"Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!"

These new shoots are all the way on the other side of the two-car parking area from the tree by the way. The seeds must have been dropped there from the huge canopy above. The tree is dropping its flowers now in fact, covering the ground (and the cars) with pollen.


"Smellier that cat pee!"

You might recall that I learned from Wikipedia that the male pollen-producing ailanthus flowers smell like cat pee. Well now our whole parking area smells like that. And the car. I like to think that this is all for some higher purpose.

"And who, disguised as a mild mannered and stinky tree in a great metropolitan city, fights the never ending battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way."

I wonder what its Kryptonite is?

tree of heaven

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I think I have figured out the identity of the mystery tree with the enormous roots and reddish compound leaves that towers over the other trees by our parking space.


It turns out to be an Ailanthus tree (or Tree of Heaven). We looked at a twig from this type of tree in my science class (the class that got me started writing this blog). Our instructor described it as a "kindergarten tree," because all of its features are very large, making it easy to observe the typical characteristics of a twig. Look at those enormous leaf scars!


I had noticed this skinny Ailanthus twig growing near our parking spot between the tree with the nest in it and the one with the enormous roots. But it wasn't until I recognized that the leaves on that twig were the same as those on the tall tree with the enormous roots, that I realized that the larger tree must also be an Ailanthus tree. 


In fact, I think the smaller twigs may really just be suckers from the larger tree. Tree suckers are also called basal shoots (as if anyone would choose to use that term over sucker!) and are new shoots that develop from the base of a tree. And sure enough, that's just where these twigs are coming from.


These suckers can grow to become entire new trees, sometimes even competing with the original tree for nutrients and light (although often a tree will produce suckers when the main tree is damaged, sort of as a replacement).

Now, Ailanthus is kind of known as a weed tree. It likes to take over an area, both below (with large roots, as we've seen) and above (by growing taller than its surrounding trees and blocking their sunlight - hmmm, seen that too). Suckers are another way that this tree can take over. The wikipedia description reads like a observation of my tree: "suckers that can damage pavements" - check; "capable of forming thick blankets of roots" - check; "the male flowers have a strong odour [which] tends to resemble the smell of strong cat urine or the spray of a male cat" - oh my, is that what I smell in the car sometimes on particularly pollen-y days? That's from that tree?!

 So I'm convinced, but a check on my favorite site, What Tree is It?, confirms my identification.


Lookie, there: funny bumps at the bottom of each leaf.



And broad, flat, pinnately compound...uh, what that said...leaves!



By the way, the tree behind the Ailanthus suckers - the one with the nest - appears to be some sort of chestnut. I'm not swearing to that just yet, but the leaf is a good indicator. I'll leave it to you to check this one...


a springtime walk among the trees

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Back in February, I took a walk through the neighborhood to look at trees. I saw interesting bark and different types of buds and a lot of snow. This weekend, we had our first non-rainy day in about two weeks, so I popped the camera in my pocket and set off on a springtime neighborhood tree walk.

I spotted the kooky honey locusts, finally starting to green.


And discovered a group of birds flitting about in them. Apparently, they do not find the twisted, gnarled twigs as spooky looking as I do.


Speaking of birds, I spotted this in a tree by our parking space.


A nest!


I haven't seen any birds around it yet, but the car has been covered with their droppings in the last couple of weeks. I actually get kind of excited each time I come to the car and see new bird poop on it. I start searching up in the trees to see if the birds have returned to their nest!

The trees by our parking space are an interesting bunch. There's the Norway maple that I've been watching and the tree with the incredibly long roots. The root tree looks almost bare among its green neighbor trees.


But if you follow the branches up, they end in lovely orange-y leaves.


I have no idea what kind of tree it is. It seems to have compound leaves similar to my tree's, but they're so high that I can't distinguish any of the details.

Closer to the kids' school, there is another tree that has intrigued me for the last couple of weeks. I don't know what kind it is either, but it has heart-shaped leaves all along every branch.


I have to admit that I originally thought leaves would come out everywhere on a tree, but now that I've looked closer at trees, I can see that they are usually on the tips of the branches, leaving the bark bare. This tree, with its almost vine-like covering of leaves, reminds me of an extremely hirsute man with hair where it shouldn't be. Each of those leaves is directly attached to the branch with one stem. The tree seems to have no need for twigs at all!

Another tree that amazes me is this one, with enormous leaves the length and shape of my foot and huge clusters of flowers that hold themselves straight up on the twig.


The flowers have pretty little red and yellow dots in the center.


I think this might be a Horse chestnut tree. It is magnificent.

On my way back home, I was surprised by the full canopy on this ash tree just a block away from my house.


This ash is a good two or three weeks ahead of the others on the street. It looks fully developed, whereas mine definitely looks like it's still just getting started.


Now that the leaves are arriving, I can tell just how many of the branches on my tree are dead. There are whole sections, maybe a third of the tree, that remain completely bare.

I wonder if my tree will ever fill out like the ash down the street.
I wonder how the honey locusts will look when they have all their leaves.
I wonder when the horse chestnut will lose its flowers and begin to drop chestnuts all over the street.
I wonder when the birds will return to their nest and when they will leave it again.

look out below

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There are signs of spring hiding in the dirt all around! These are some sprouts from a neighbor's bulbs just starting to peep out of the finally snow-free soil.


Ever optimistic, I ran to my tree to see if there were some sprouts or grass shoots or anything even the remotest bit green around the base of my tree.


Nope. But looking down, I started thinking about the roots. After a tinsy bit of research, I discovered that a tree's roots will extend out far wider than the crown above. To think that all that is down under the sidewalk!


So that's why you sometimes see tree roots coming up above the ground. They're not that deep anyway! I checked the sidewalk cutout around our poor, unfortunate tree on the other side of the house, Bud. No sprouts, but there are some visible roots.


And after parking in our driveway the other day, I noticed these incredibly long visible roots.


These roots are not even coming from that first tree at the end of the wooden fence. There is another, even larger tree obscured behind it which is the source of all these roots. They're amazing! I feel like it can't be too good for the tree though. Aren't these supposed to be underground? Can they still bring nutrients to the tree like this? Doesn't the air dry them out too much? What if someone steps on them, drives on them, or, sorry Bud, runs the stroller over them about a thousand times?