Its Height, Size, and Nativity.—Its Adaptability to Arid Places, with Recommendation.—Manner of Growth, Description and Uses of its Wood.—Description of its Leaf and Flower.—When First Introduced into the United States and by Whom.—Successful Propagation Instanced.—How Propagated.
This tree, which grows to the height of sixty or seventy feet, with a diameter of two feet, is a native of China, and has quite recently been transplanted to the arid steppes of Siberia with great success, as it has a strong tendency to hold the sand together and keep it from shifting. In the first period of its existence it is of very rapid growth, and does not slacken until about the twelfth year, and then it gradually becomes slower and slower of growth. The wood is hard, very fine grained, and fit for cabinet-work. It has been strongly recommended for planting on the arid plains of western Kansas.
This gigantic tree is justly called by the ancients the " Tree of Heaven." The leaves are from one and a half to six feet in length, having leaflets with coarse, granular teeth near the base. Its flowers are of a whitish green and of a very disagreeable odor.
The ailantus was first introduced into the United States by Mr. William Hamilton in 1784, and a sucker, planted from the original tree in 1809, is at present standing in the Bartram Botanic Garden.
In 1820 Mr. William Prince, of Flushing, Long Island, imported the ailantus from Europe, and from this stock most of the trees around New York have been supplied. This tree may be propagated from seeds, suckers, or cuttings.