This site will not be producing any additional articles for several reasons (mostly because my visions for this site have changed drastically since its inception). However, I have begun blogging at, where the focus is on larger groups (orders, families, tribes) and evolution/biodiversity from a more scientific and experienced perspective.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive of my endeavors.


Leave a comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

Sagittaria lancifolia (Bulltongue Arrowhead, Duck Potato)

Growing in wet or muddy habits, these plants can grow in up to 30cm of freshwater. The rhizomes have long been used as a carbohydrate source and can be easily propagated. White flowers are borne in whorls of 3 on tall racemes in summer.

Sagittaria lancifolia (Bulltongue Arrowhead, Duck Potato) [sometimes S. latifolia]
Family: Alismataceae
Subspecies: subsp. lancifolia, subsp. media
Native: southeastern United States, Texas to Florida
Hardiness Zones: 8-11 (sources provide variable information, typically reliable source (MoBot) indicates zone 5 with protection)
Height: to 1.3m (rarely 2m)
Diameter: rhizomes to 0.6m long and 10cm wide
Root System: fibrous emerging from tuber-like rhizome, float if removed from soil-mud medium
Growth Rate: moderate-fast
Age: perennial forb/herb
Deciduous: yes
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious with imperfect flowers
Monocot/dicot: monocot

Tolerates: wet soil, flooding soil
Problems (major): drying out is typically fatal
Problems (minor): low saltwater tolerance, requires high amounts of sun for blooming
Poisonous: no, rhizome safely edible
Soil requirements: naturalize in sandy, loamy, and muddy soils, must be consistenly wet or submerged
Air requirements: good soil aeration not vital
Watering requirement: must be in consistently wet habits
Sun requirement: full sun
Leaves: to 1m, sagittate-linear-ovate-elliptic lamina to 25cm (above water), petioles terete to 58cm, lanceolate or bladeless if submerged entirely, apex acuminte, base cuneate, venation parallel, glabrous
Flower structure: to 3cm in diameter, 3 sepals recurving and green, 3 petals white, stamens yellow and 6+ (in staminate flowers), pistils numerous and is bushy green clusters (for pistillate flowers), filaments longer than anhers, in 6-12 whorls of 3 flowers on racemes atop leafless scapes
Flowering frequency: June-August
Fruit type: achenes oblanceolate-obovoid, winged, to 2.5mm, seeds may take up to 2 years for germination
Fruit dispersal: waterfowl, water, (possibly) wind
Subterranean storage organ: elliptical rhizome
Notable characteristics:
The flowers can be quite showy when numerous. The edible rhizomes float to the water’s surface if removed from their muddy soil substrate.

Some use this as a food source rich in carbohydrates; these are more commonly ornamental obligate wetland plants.

Sources used:

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.


Female flower, sitmgatic surface designed to maximize capture pollenSagittaria_lancifolia
Foliage emerging from rhizome near HydroctyleSagittaria_lancifolia__ Male (staminate) flowers

1 Comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

Bismarckia nobilis (Bismarck palm)

Native to Madagascar, this fan palm features huge silvery-blue leaves. Bismarck Palms are slow growers, especially before the formation of a trunk. Although they quickly recover from minor cold damage, these need protection to be grown outdoors in zone 9. This species is the only recorded member in its genus.

Bismarckia nobilis (Bismarck Palm)
Family: Arecaceae
Subspecies: none officially
Native: Madagascar
Hardiness Zones: 10-11
Height: to 18 meters tall, rarely to 20
Diameter: 4.5 meters at maturity, trunk to 30 centimeters
Root System: fibrous, shallow, roots grey or black
Growth Rate: slow to moderate (30-60cm annually), producing several leaves at a time on healthy specimens (each at slightly different developmental stages)
Age: max height usually within 20 years, typically to 50 years total
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: dioecious
Monocot/dicot: monocot
Tolerates: salt (moderate), drought, breakage
Problems (major): scale infestations (if not detected and treated early), root rot (if put in wet soil), proper watering difficult for inexperienced growers
Problems (minor): fairly slow-growing, leaf tip burn from watering with water containing fluorides and other ions
Poisonous: consumption toxic for pets
Soil requirements: prefers medium/loamy soils, tolerates light/sandy soils, acidic to slightly alkaline, good drainage required
Air requirements: soil must have decent air flow; air pollution effects seemingly undetermined
Watering requirement: high IN FULL SUN ONLY , water typically 3 times a week, more frequently after transplanting (up to twice a day if necessary), much more moderate in temperate areas grown indoors
Sun requirement: full sun to partial shade
Leaves: fan-like, simple, palmate, spirally arranged, silvery-gray-blue, massive, to 1.2 meters (4 feet) long by 1.2 meters (4 feet) wide without recurved (facing base)
thorns on petiole
Flowers: Flower stalks grow to 1.2 meters (4 feet) long with white flowers
Fruits: to 5 centimeters (2 inches) wide, round, light green to brown upon maturity
Form: symmetrical
Notable characteristics:
Bismarck Palms boast silver-gray-blue palmate leaves forming a symmetrical pattern. Germination, in warm and moist conditions, should occur within 8 weeks for ripe seeds.

These are grown solely for their ornamental value.

Sources used:

blue_palm_leaves Young foliage
Blue_Palm_2Emerging foliage
Leaf bases of a young plant

20151003_114338 Young form

20151206_111951 Adventitious root system20151206_111948 Effects of drastic over-watering, dying foliage and rotting roots

All of the images provided were taken by me at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

Leave a comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

Stangeria eriopus (Stanger’s Cycad, Natal Grass Cycad)

Looking like a fern when cones are absent, Stangeria eriopus is a cycad endemic to Southeastern Africa found either in sunny grasslands (where there is typically only one leaf per plant) or densely shaded inland forests (where up to seven leaves may be present at one time). This is also the only species in Stangeria and one of two genera in Stangeriaceae, the other being Bowenia with two northeastern Australian species with bipinnate leaves.

Stangeria eriopus (Stanger’s Cycad, Natal Grass Cycad)
Family: Stangeriaceae
Subspecies: none
Native: South African (Natal) grasslands or inland forests within 50 kilometers of the coast
Hardiness Zones: 9-10
Height: typically under 2m
Diameter: stem to 20cm, spread overall to roughly 3m
Root System: large, tuberous, fleshy, branching
Growth Rate: slow, producing typically four leaves annually (no cataphylls produced though)
Age: very long-lived, to possibly hundreds of years, but can cone early as four years
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: dioecious (either male or female)

Tolerates: light and heavy soils, highly variable (but constant!) light levels, light but very short and inconsistent frosts (down to 20F or -6C)
Problems (major): typical cycad ailments including root rot in overly wet soils
Problems (minor): intolerant of salt spray, mealybugs
Poisonous: yes, entire plant (particularly leaves and seeds)

Soil requirements: requires well-drained soils, naturally grows in sandy, granite, or heavy clay soils, prefers frequent fertilizer and compost application
Air requirements: tolerant of hot and humid conditions
Watering requirement: moderate (allow drying out before watering again), strong water jets or powerful streams will damage the foliage and roots
Sun requirement: full sun to heavy shade

Leaves: very fern-like, initially circinate and erect, arching with age, glabrous, emerge singly, pinnate, petiole base “wooly” 0.25-2 meters long; leaflets non-articulate and bases not persistent, large and fleshy stipules, foled, cataphylls absent, linear-lanceolate, decurrent on rhachis, prominently toothed and wavy margins, to 40 leaflets per leaf
Cones (male): cylindrical, tapers at apex, to 25x4cm, emerge terminally, few per plant at one time, produced year-round
Cones (female): ovoid, round tip, to 18x8cm, emerge terminally and singly (new growth continues afterwards due to new meristem formation), produced year-round
Seeds require stratification: no
Seed dispersal: 33x22cm radiospermic and ovoid seeds with purple/red sacrotesta dispersed by vertebrates
Form: fern-like
Trunk: subterranean, carrot-shaped, branching up to 10 offshoots/pups, to 20cm wide
Notable characteristics:
Initially placed in the fern genus Lomaria, partly because the first collected specimen was sterile and the leaves look very close to Oleandra distenta. This cycad,unlike nearly all others, does not produce heat from its cones. Sex changes have been observed in this species. Like many other cycads, it is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

These are extremely heavily collected in South African regions, especially using the roots and stem for medicinal or cultural practices. Cuttings can be made by removing part of a stem and any attached leaves; proper watering and fertilizers should permit a healthy root system to develop within 18 months.

Sources used:

DSC_0876 Stangeria eriopus form at the Missouri Botanical Gardens
DSC_0877 S. eriopus leaf at MoBot (December)

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

Leave a comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

Camellia sinensis (Tea)

Growing with a woody, monopodial form, Tea plants can form dense hedges in appropriate zones. Their (usually terminal) leaves are used to product the commercially sold tea products in today’s age. While their usefulness tends to dip around 40 years old, some have survived up to 100 years. Seed propagation is less successful and expedient than vegetative reproduction by cuttings.

Camellia sinensis (Tea)
Family: Theaceae
Subspecies: var. sinensis, var. assamica (larger, less serrate foliage)
Native: Himalayas/China
Hardiness Zones: 7-9 (to 6a with protection)
Height: to 4.5 meters
Diameter: to 3 meters
Root System: taproot, primary to 3 meters deep (typically smaller)
Growth Rate: faster than C. japonica but still quite slow
Age: perennial
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious, hermaphroditic flowers
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: high altitude pressures
Problems (major): numerous fungal infections (leaf spot, petal blight, black mold, anthracnose, cankers, root rots), viral
infections, chlorosis (amend with iron chelates to the soil), scale, intolerant of flooding and drought
Problems (minor): susceptible to breakage, leaf scorch, requires cold period during winter (7-15 C) if indoors, aphids, spider
mites, planthoppers
Poisonous: contains tannins, ingestion correlated with increased risks of cancer
Soil requirements: prefers acidic, well-drained soils with a large organic layer, performs poorly if planted deep in the soil,
appreciates light even fertilizers every other month
Air requirements: susceptible to breakage/reduced leaf growth/leaf browning from powerful winds, must be between 13 degrees and 35
Celsius for growth
Watering requirement: moderate
Sun requirement: partial sun or part shade (full sun can scorch leaves and dwarf size)
Leaves: alternate, margins serrate, elliptical to oblanceolate, glossy, leathery, light turning deep green, to 13cm long by 5cm wide
Flower structure: hermaphroditic, arise from leaf axils singly or in clusters, 5-7 sepals and white petals, yellow anthers/carpels,
to 14cm wide
Flowering frequency: October-December
Fruit type: 3-lobed capsule with 1 or 2 seeds requiring 12 months to mature fully, shiny, smooth,to 2cm wide
Fruit dispersal: likely birds
Subterranean storage organ: thick taproot

Notable characteristics:
The leaves and buds from this plant and its cultivars are used in tea production.

The terminal buds and leaves from C. sinensis are used to produce tea leaves sold commercially today. Where conditions apply, these
can make effective dense hedges. The caffeine present in the foliage is used as a stimulant.

Sources used:


Camellia sinensis at SIUC’s Plant Biology Greenhouse
20151206_111830 C. sinensis form (SIUC PLB greenhouse)
Camellia_ C. japonica cultivar at the Missouri Botanical GardensCamellia_japonica_'C.M._Wilson'

C. japonica ‘C.M. Wilson’ cultivar at MoBot

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this
article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

Leave a comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

Cymbidium (Orchid)

Native to tropical Asia or Australia, these semi-terrestrial orchids grow with swollen stems resembling bulbs
(termed pseudobulbs). Flowers, all but pure red or blue, emerge from a spike bearing possibly twenty (but commonly fewer)

Cymbidium (Orchid)
Family: Orchidaceae
Subspecies: countless cultivated/subspecies/varieties/hybrids (Dear Eillen ‘Delight’, Dilly ‘Dei Mar’, Evening ‘Bethlehem’, Maluka ‘Brilliant’, Mimi ‘Mary Bae’, Mini Torch ‘Red Beacon’, Red Back ‘Solid Gold’, Sarah Jean, Sylvia Miller ‘Brilliance’, Valley Blush ‘Magnificient’, Via Verde Dean, Mouchette ‘Magic Mushroom’, to name a few)
Native: tropical Asia, Australia
Hardiness Zones: 10-12
Height: leaves to roughly 40 centimeters, flowers to almost 120 centimeters on non-miniatures
Diameter: to about 60 centimeters
Root System: easily susceptible to rot, to 12cm long, to nearly 1cm thick, sometimes autotrophic
Growth Rate: rapid
Age: perennial
Deciduous: usually not
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: relatively fragile
Problems (major): root/stem rot (collar rot, black rot), bar mottle, diamond mottle, ringspot virus
Problems (minor): aphids, spider mites, mealybug, scale, flower spotting, mosaic virus, leaf scorch (too
warm/excessive sun)
Poisonous: contains quinones (toxic if ingested), possible very minor dermatitis for select individuals
Soil requirements: a natural epiphyte, prefers very well-drained soil (typically redwood bark chips or
perlite), appreciates balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer or 30-10-10 NPK in bark only
Air requirements: requires high humidity, in the 60-80% range
Watering requirement: light watering every few days to keep soil moist (with tepid water) and frequent
misting on LEAVES (not on flowers!)
Sun requirement: requires full sun, partial sun/shade reduces blooms except in excessively warm summers
Leaf size: to 60 centimeters long attached to a petiole-like stem outgrowth
Leaf shape: strap-like, elliptic, arching, typically to 4 attached to thickened stem (ovoid pseudobulb)
Flowering frequency: annually in fall or winter
Flower color(s): any except pure red or blue
Flower gimmick: flower spikes not deceitful
Petals/Sepals: unusually thick tepals, 5 petals to 8 centimeters across
Lip/Column: mouth-like lip, different colored “landing pad”
Stigma/Anthers: inconspicuous, hidden inside the lip/column
Epiphyte: yes but semi-terrestrial
Daytime temperature: around 21 Celsius (70 Fahrenheit), require a 6-8 week cooler period (reduce ~10-15
degrees Fahrenheit during this time)
Nighttime temperature: around 15 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit)

Notable characteristics:
Semi-terrestrial and native to the East, these orchids grow with swollen stems to store water and nutrients.
While there are forty-four officially listed species, countless hybrids have greatly increased the different “types” in this genus.

These are common house-grown orchids. The flowers are commonly used in arrangements for their slight
fragrances and showy qualities.

Sources used:

‘Magic Mushroom’

Pseudobulbs and leaves

DSC09034  DSC08997  DSC08927 Cymbidium_Dear_Eillen_'Delight'_

‘Dei Mar’



‘Mary Bae’

‘Red Beacon’

‘Solid Gold’

Sarah Jean ‘Karen’

Sylvia Miller ‘Brilliance’

Valley Blush ‘Magnificient’ pseudobulbs

Vea Verde Dean
I do not own the rights of these images; all credit goes to its original creator(s). They were all taken
during the Orchid festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Leave a comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

Sygarus romanzoffiana (Queen Palm)

Popular for their tropical ornamental appearance, Queen Palms are rapid-growing palms that can be extremely prolific after flowering. Unfortunately, these require a large amount of rainfall and are susceptible to nutritional deficincies and fatal fungal diseases.

Syargus romanzoffina (Queen Palm)
Family: Arecaceae
Subspecies: none known
Native: South America (Brazil, Bolivia)
Hardiness Zones: 9B-11
Height: to 15 meters
Diameter: to 7 meters
Root System: fibrous, shallow
Growth Rate: relatively rapid (by palm standards) once established, up to 9 fronds per year and 1 meter of vertical growth
Age: begins flowering earliest at 6 years old, commonly  to 20 years old
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious
Monocot/dicot: monocot

Tolerates: drought tolerance (moderate), salt tolerant (slightly), unaffected by lethal yellowing restraints
Problems (major): Palms suffer many nutritional deficiencies, including necrotic/curling/chlorotic leaveflet tips (Potassium (K) deficiency), yellow/chlorotic leaves (Iron (FE) deficiencies or alkaline soils), andcleaf shape distortion or improper direction of growth (Boron (B) deficiency). Ganoderma butt rot kills base of trunk and eventually entire plant (Ganoderma zonatum fungus, fruiting body (conk) appear prior to death). Theilaviopsis trunk rot (Theilavopsis paradoxa, fungus) soft rots trunk
just beneath crown if an open wound is present. Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum sp. palmarum, fungus) kills old petioles and leaflets first before rapidly moving onto new leaves and becoming fatal. The three fungal diseases are wind-dispersed and may be transmitted by using contaminated tools.
Problems (minor): palm leaf skeletonizer, mites, scale, fares poorly in very dry environments (such as Arizona)
Poisonous: non-toxic
Soil requirements: requires neutral to acidic, loamy to sandy, and well-drained soils
Air requirements: requires moderate humidity, fares poorly in deserts
Watering requirement: moderate
Sun requirement: full sun or nearly full sun necessary
Leaves: pinnate, feather-shaped, drooping/arching, dark green, serve as a Potassium/K source once dead, to 200 leaflets per leaf, leaf to 4.5m, leaflet lanceolate to 90 cm
Flower structure: very dense, cream/white-colored plumes/panicles, individual flowers to 1cm
Flowering frequency: spring-early summer
Fruit: round to ovate, bright orange, to 3 centimeters, extremely prolific, occurring in large clusters up to 45 kilograms containing up to 1,000 seeds
Seeds: various rates of germination after 6-24 weeks after soaking in water for 2 days
Trunk: light gray, to 37 centimeters
Form: tall, slender, with arching crown
Notable characteristics:
This is on of the fastest growing juvenile palm species commercially sold today.

These are popular ornamental palms despite their susceptibility to fatal fungal infections and ailments caused by alkaline soil or nutrient deficiencies.
Sources used:

Roughly 5 meter tall S. romanzoffiana, grown by SIUC life science greenhouse manager

Trunk, surface roots visible



Upper trunk
Queen Palm in New Orleans
Arching leaves

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.


Filed under Plant Analysis

Equisetum hyemale (Scouringrush Horsetail)

Scouringrush Horsetail, belonging to the only surviving genus of the Equisetophyta, is an incredibly aggressive vascular plant without seeds. While its method of spore production is not particularly efficient, the incredibly aggressive root system can spread rhizomes across very considerable distances (up to several meters, passing underneath greenhouses). These quickly form pure stands outcompeting other vegetation.

Equisetum hyemale (Scouringrush Horsetail, Common Horsetail)
Family: Equisetaceae
Subspecies: subsp. affine, var. elatum, var. pseudohyemale
Native: almost all of North America, Guatemala, most of Asia (including Russia, even Siberia), most of Europe
Hardiness Zones: 4-9
Height: to roughly 1.5m
Diameter: cylindrical stems to 1cm in diameter
Root System: extensive
Growth Rate: rapid
Age: perennial
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious
Tolerates: deer grazing, virtually no pest problems, extremely tolerant of all soil types
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): incredibly aggressive spreader
Poisonous: toxic if ingest in large quantities although not a substantial bioaccumulator (besides silica)
Soil requirements: prefers moist soils, native to wet soils, tolerates essentially any soil habit (including low pH, those with high concentrations of metals, highly disturbed sites)
Air requirements: appear to be tolerant of air pollution, at least that caused by mining
Watering requirement: moderate to high, possibly in standing water
Sun requirement: full sun to dense shade

Vascular tissue: present, conspicuous at nodes
Leaves: extremely reduced, (nearly vestigial) small, black structures at nodes, in whorls for all Equisetum sp.
Shoot: primary photosynthetic organ, erect, cylindrical, easily broken off just above nodes, jointed, rush/bamboo-like, contain large quantities of silicon, light-green (darker at internodes) to 1cm wide and 1.5m tall [fertile shoots pinkish-green, sometimes curved at top somewhat, short internodes, photosynthetic, to 30cm tall)
Roots: extensive rhizome system, possibly beyond 10 meters for mature, established colonies
Dominant generation: sporophyte
Gametophyte: nearly microscopic, thallus body similar to ferns with rhizoids (~roots/rhizomes), photosynthetic, to 4mm
Sporophyte: erect shoots, mostly hollow and cylindrical with supportive tissues at nodes
Strobili: typically terminal, spore-bearing, cone-like, elliptical, light orange with black spots, to 1cm
Notable characteristics:
Horsetails are peculiar “fern allies” that phyllogenetically do not resemble angiosperms, gymnosperms, or bryophytes. Despite being the sole surviving genus, these plants can do remarkably well if given the opportunity.

These are commonly used in rain of water gardens, sometimes as a border. Be careful to not let these take over entire gardens! These have been previously used to scour pottery and wind instruments.
Sources used:

Common Horsetail at Chicago Botanical Garden

Strobili, terminal

Very dense pure stand

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

Leave a comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

Koelreuteria paniculata (Golden Rain Tree, Varnish-Tree)

Dropping golden yellow flowers in mid-summer and conspicuous yellow leaves in autumn, the Golden Rain Tree is a small, irregularly shaped tree from China, Japan, and
the Koreas. They produce distinct three-lobed seed pods vaguely resembling Chinese lanterns which persist well into autumn.

Koelreuteria paniculata (Golden Rain Tree, Varnish-Tree)
Family: Sapindaceae (Soapberry family)
Subspecies: ‘Fastigiata’ (erect growth habit)
Native: China, Japan, Korea
Hardiness Zones: 5b-9b
Height: to 12m
Diameter: to 12m
Root System: coarse, few large roots, woody
Growth Rate: moderate (32-60cm annually)
Age: typically to 50 years
Deciduous: yes
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious (almost always)
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: drought (moderate), flooding, heavy soils, alkaline soils, salt spray (moderate), air pollutants, rarely attacked by pests
Problems (major): verticillium wilt (begins on single branches, may be fatal)
Problems (minor): root rot, leaf spot, canker (produces sunken dead patches on bark), weak/brittle wood, invasive mostly in warm climates (ex. Florida)
Poisonous: foliage toxic to livestock (horses, cattle, etc.)
Soil requirements: tolerant of light sand, heavy clay, and alkaline soils, prefers slightly dry, well-drained soils
Air requirements: tolerates air pollutants
Watering requirement: dry to moderate
Sun requirement: full sun
Leaves: initially pink/brown/purple turning medium green becoming shades of yellow in autumn, pinnate/partially bipinnate, oblong/ovate, serrated with coarse teeth, compound, 7-17 irregularly lobed leaflets (sometimes with small secondary leaflets narrower but similar in shape) under 10cm, leaflets with short petioles or sessile, rachis light green or red and smooth (glabrous) or somewhat pubescent, to 45cm
Flowers: blooming May-July (earlier in warmer zones) on terminal panicles, 4 green sepals, 4 golden yellow petals wide but lanceolate, 8 yellow stamens, usually perfect/hermaphroditic, lasting 2-4 weeks, individual flowers to 1cm, to 38cm
Fruits: thin/paper-like, vaguely lantern-shaped or pyramidal (3-lobed), dry, dehiscent, 1 seed per lobe, individual seeds globe-shaped to 8mm
Seeds require stratification: no
Seed dispersal: likely wind
Form: irregular, vaguely globe-shaped
Trunk: short, to 38cm wide, flat gray ridges with red-brown fisures, lenticels scattered amongst trunk
Notable characteristics:
K. bipinnnata may be more showy, but K. paniculata is much more cold tolerant.

This tree is useful as a moderately fast growing shade tree with showy flowers and falling foliage, explaining the name ‘Golden Rain Tree’ in midsummer once the flowers fall and in autumn again when the leaves drop.
Sources used:

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

Leave a comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven, Chinese Sumac)

Superficially resembling Sumacs at first glance, the Tree of Heaven is an extraordinarily invasive tree species native to China. It is superbly well adapted to cope with almost every soil condition, drought, and many man-made roadblocks (such as concrete and air pollutants).

Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven, Chinese Sumac)
Family: Simaroubaceae
Subspecies: none
Native: invasive in U.S.A., China (where these were used as a food source for silk worms)
Hardiness Zones: 4-8
Height: to 23 meters
Diameter: canopy to 18 meters
Root System: spreading, enormously extensive, possibly to 27m from parent stem
Growth Rate: extremely rapid (typically 1.8m annually, once recorded at 3.6m in one year after cutting an adult to the ground)
Age: short-lived, to 70 years max
Deciduous: yes
Monoecious/dioecious: dioecious typically (separate male/female plants), some flowers perfect (monoecious)
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: drought, air pollutants
Problems (major): Trees of Heaven are incredibly difficult to control, especially since they have at most minor disease and insect problems. This tree is very invasive in the United States. These may ravage sidewalks, pavement, sewers, and other manmade structures in addition to displacing native species.
Problems (minor): powerful winds (due to weak wood)
Poisonous: These produce allelopathic/herbicidal compounds, such as ailanthone, reducing competition.
Soil requirements: grows in almost every soil type of most acidic/alkaline conditions, moisture levels, drainage, and type (sandy/loamy/clay)
Air requirements: tolerates air pollutants, grows well but dwarfed in cities
Watering requirement: low to moderate
Sun requirement: full sun to almost dense shade
Leaves: odd pinnate, 11-25 leaflets with nearly truncate base and attenuate ends, roughly trollate, veins light yellow-green and alternating, medium green, red twig, rachis, and petioles, gland-tipped basal teeth on individual leaflets yellow-green, to 60cm per leaf
Flowers: yellow-greenish, June-July, in enormous clusters
Fruits: samaras/schizocarp, oblanceolate, pink/yellow (red/brown when ripe) with yellow “eye” where seed sits, indihescent, twisting/curling at end, large terminal clusters, ripening in September, dispersed October to spring, upper estimates speculate 325,000 seeds can be produced by a single tree annually
Seeds require stratification: No, dormancy does improve otherwise slow germination though.
Seed dispersal: wind
Form: loose, open, similar to small Sumacs (Rhus sp.) in urban areas
Trunk: weak wood (susceptible to breakage by high winds), bark smooth, light gray
Notable characteristics:
These can proliferate rapidly by suckering (producing offshoots) and self-seeding, may become aggressive and difficult to remove once established. These grow almost EVERYWHERE, even through slits in sidewalks and through blacktop or asphalt surfaces. Chemicals glyphosate and triclopyr may be effective if applied to shoot portion.

These were once used as ornamentals upon introduction to New York in the 1700’s, although this practice has been abandoned due to this tree’s invasive nature. The leaves are a food source for silk worms.

Sources used:


Seeds (mid-August)

Compound leaf
All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

Leave a comment

Filed under Plant Analysis