Ailanthus altissima (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
Introduction
List of species


Ailanthus altissima (Miller) Swingle

Protologue: Journ. Wash. Acad. Sci. 6: 495 (1916).

Synonyms

  • Ailanthus glandulosa Desf. (1786),
  • Ailanthus vilmoriniana Dode (1904).

Vernacular names

  • Tree of heaven (En)
  • Vietnam: phượng nhãn thảo, thanh thất núi cao.

Distribution

Native to China, now widely cultivated as an ornamental throughout the world in particular in areas with a subtropical or temperate climate, often naturalized. In Malesia occasionally grown as an ornamental in the cooler parts.

Uses

In Vietnam, the stem bark is used in folk medicine to treat diarrhoea and dysentery and sometimes against tapeworms. A decoction of the fruit is employed for cough and irregularity of menstruation. The resin is used externally as a counterirritant or vesicant. The stem bark is astringent, antispasmodic and powdered dried bark has narcotic properties. The fruits are used as an emmenagogue and for ophthalmic purposes. The leaves are astringent and applied in lotions prescribed in seborrhoea and scabies. Leaves and flowers sometimes cause dermatitis. The wood can be used for the production of furniture and utensils. The female trees are preferred for ornamental purposes in view of the odour of the male flowers.

Observations

  • A deciduous tree up to 30 m tall, sometimes suckering from roots, forming dense thickets.
  • Leaves imparipinnate with (4-)6-12(-15) pairs of oblique and lobed or dentate leaflets (4-)10–-15 cm long, glabrous or puberulous with an abaxial gland near the tip of basal lobes.
  • Petals woolly on inner surface and lower margins; carpels 5, glabrous.
  • Samara 4(-6) cm long.

A. altissima is tolerant of drought, saline soils and air pollution. These qualities in combination with its resistance to fungal and insect attack make it an ideal urban tree despite its sometimes weedy nature.

Selected sources

52,

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.

216, 248, 304, 311, 341, 362, 402, 406, 537, 561, 566, 739, 746, 765, 776, 786, 788, 798, 817, 888, 898, 933, 956, 980, 1072.

Main genus page

Authors

J.L.C.H. van Valkenburg