Tree of Heaven
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Tree of Heaven
ntroduced Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Tree of Heaven, China-sumac
Botanical name: Ailanthus altissima    Family: Simaroubaceae (Quassia family)
Synonyms: Toxicodendron altissimum

Tree of Heaven is a medium-sized tree that grow up to 17-27 m tall, with a trunk diameter at breast height of about 1 metre. The bark is smooth and light gray, often becoming somewhat rougher with light tan fissures as the tree ages. The branches are light to dark gray in color, smooth, lustrous, and containing raised lenticels that become fissures with age. The ends of the branches become pendulous. All parts of the plant have a distinguishing strong odor that is often likened to rotting peanuts or cashews. Alternately arranged leaves are large, odd- or even-pinnately compound. They are 30-90 cm long with 10–41 leaflets, with the largest leaves found on vigorous young sprouts. The leaflets are ovate- lanceshaped with entire margins, somewhat asymmetric and occasionally not directly opposite to each others. Each leaflet is 5-18 cm long and 2.5-5 cm wide. Flowers are small and appear in large panicles up to 50 cm long at the end of new shoots. The individual flowers are yellowish-green to reddish in color, each with five petals and sepals. The sepals are cup-shaped, lobed and united while the petals are valvate (they meet at the edges without overlapping), white and hairy towards the inside.Tree of Heaven is native to NE and C. China and Taiwan. It is widely cultivated in Kashmir. Flowering: June-July.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh Photographed in Srinagar, Kashmir.

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