Keele University Arboretum
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Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima
Origin: this native of China was introduced in 1751. It is a common tree in the squares, parks and larger gardens of London and the south of England but is scarcer further north. The name derives from the speed at which the tree grows towards the sky! Mature trees can reach 30m. In some parts of he world where they have been introduced they can be a pest as the sucker and seed profusely.
It is one of several of trees at Keele that have frond-like (pinnate) leaves - the others include Caucasian Wing-nut, Varnish Tree and Japanaese Pagoda Tree.
Leaves: in this species the leaves are 30 - 60cm long (longer for new growth on pruned branches) with 10 - 20 leaflets arranged oppositely down the leaf stalk. The critical feature is that the edges of the basal leaflets are entire except for a few small teeth towards the base. The crushed leaves have an unpleasant smell.
At Keele : We have two trees; one of which has fallen but is still in leaf (photo) - square P13; compartment 13b.