Archive for the ‘Ailanthus tree/ tree-of-heaven’ Category

OUR BOTANICAL ADVENTURES IN THE AVEYRON REGION OF FRANCE

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

SANGUINE ROOT STAFF FINDS NATIVE WILDFLOWERS IN THE SOUTHWEST OF FRANCE THAT HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED TO NORTH AMERICA WHERE THEY HAVE BECOME  NOXIOUS INVASIVE WEEDS.

ALSO NEW DISCOVERIES ARE MADE OF INTERESTING NATIVE PLANTS AND TREES GROWING IN PICTURESQUE VILLAGES.

Salles-La-Source, France

Salles-La-Source, France

Isabelle in her native habitat.

Our commenting readership has demanded more pictures that show the context of many of the plants we have been featuring in our adventures throughout France. Our travels through the south of France have taken us to many charming villages, including one where Isabelle grew up.  Many of these villages date back to at least the 12th century and have an inventory of buildings that represent every century since, making for a fascinating display of architecture and history, much of which is proudly well preserved.

Salles-La-Source, France

Salles-La-Source, France

The town of Salles-La-Source was nestled on a steep hillside.  A beautiful waterfall cascaded down from the edge of the town. The waterfall created a rich environment full of ferns growing out of the rocks.  It was here that we discovered a native wildflower growing naturally in its habitat, a plant that has invaded Morris Park and many forests across the eastern half of America, the Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata.

Alliaria petiolata, Garlic Mustard, Salles-La-Source, France

Alliaria petiolata, Garlic Mustard, Salles-La-Source, France

What an exciting find!  Here is a plant that we have been pulling out of the forest in Philadelphia for years, and here it is growing in its native habitat!  The plant has already gone to flower and it is now only a few leaves for the rest of the growing season and through the winter. Seeing this plant as a native plant, belonging to a place has a degree of importance in our experience overall in our adventures in environmental restoration.  We spend so much time removing this plant from one habitat, trying to understand that it  is not the plant that is a problem, but the context, geography and history  of the plant that is problematic in specific locations and continents. Its all about the location of the plant. Here is one location that we can feel at ease with this plant and admire its beauty in its natural range.

Alliaria petiolata, Garlic Mustard, Salles-La-Source, France

Alliaria petiolata, Garlic Mustard, Salles-La-Source, France

The leaf at the very bottom of the picture is English Ivy, Hedera helix, also in its native habitat. English Ivy is an invasive exotic in North America.

 Sean Solomon in Conques, France

Sean Solomon in Conques, France

This town, in the picture above is Conques.  This town is very picturesque, full of beautiful buildings nestled up against the greenest of hillsides, with vineyards above.  It really does look like this.  It is so charming it will take your breath away.   We were very impressed with the Romanesque church in Conques, which was extremely well preserved.   We admired the architecture and history for quite some time, and as we strolled casually about the place we began to notice the plants.  Observations were made, and here they are duly noted:

Castanea sativa in Conques, France

Castanea sativa in Conques, France

The hillside next to Conques is full of the native Chestnut trees, Castanea sativa, loaded with fruit, growing all the way up to the summit.

Sean Solomon with Castanea sativa in Conques, France

Sean Solomon with Castanea sativa in Conques, France

It is astonishing how similar this species is to the American Chestnut, the Castanea dentata. The Sativa is blighted as well, from the same fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, but has not suffered the devastating consequences as of yet as our dentata has.  However, the blight is prevalent in every population we examined, which we did in a vast range extending across 100s of  kilometers.

Conques, France

Conques, France

When we began examining the plants around town , an interesting picture began to unfold, and it was not the one we expected.  Many trees in the town were the same ones we have in Philly, the Ailanthus altissima, the Tree-of Heaven.

Conques, France

Conques, France

To the left is Pampas grass, a South American native, unfortunately having found itself in Conques, totally out of place. The tree to the right is the Chinese native Alianthus altissima, the tree-of-heaven, which has completely invaded France and can be found in every town we saw. Paris is the most invaded place we saw of this tree.  The Ailanthus tree is so prevalant in France that it is beyond the scope of control.

The Pampas grass is quickly working its way from the status of an emerging invasive to status of an establishment invasion the Ailanthus has achieved.  The Pampas grass is a very trendy garden ornamental and is being planted all over these charming French towns, giving them a silly look.   Isabelle is disturbed by this unfortunate turn of events concerning the Pampas grass.  They were not growing here when she was a child. To her they clash with the medieval landscape that the preservationists have sought to achieve.

Conques, France

Conques, France

This is a hillside of the Chestnut trees, Castanea sativa.  There are hiking trails all around Conques which is part of the Compostella trail.

Belcastel, France

Belcastel, France

Here we are in the town of Belcastel.  Behind this church we found more interesting surprises.

Japanese Knotweed, Belcastel, France

Japanese Knotweed, Belcastel, France

This one, Japanese Knotweed!  This nasty invasive is all over France too.  We found a field of wildflowers, many of them various mints, and yet to be identified plants and more Garlic Mustard.

 Belcastel, France

Belcastel, France

We found this plant growing on the hillside behind the church. Its distictive spotted leaves caught our attention  It looks native to this region doesn’t it?   We guessed correctly, and it turns out to be called Pulmonaire affine, and is a common wildflower in France, and it has a blue flower, and is sometimes called Blue Cuckoo.  It is used to make vermouth.

A TREE GROWS IN NIMES

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Ailanthus Tree has Invaded France

Ailanthus altissima, Tree-of -Heaven, Nimes, France

Ailanthus altissima, Tree-of -Heaven, Nimes, France

Riding the TGV through the south of France, we pass through Nimes. A beautiful day, sunny Mediterranean skies, and a bottle of Bordeaux.

We are on holiday.

What is that tree growing in the middle of that vacant lot?  Could it possibly be the Ailanthus?

Ailanthus altissima, Tree-of -Heaven, Nimes, France

Ailanthus altissima, Tree-of -Heaven, Nimes, France

Oh No!

Ailanthus altissima, Tree-of -Heaven, Nimes, France

Ailanthus altissima, Tree-of -Heaven, Nimes, France

Oh yes.  The tree native to the rich forests of central China has run rampant through Nimes, France as well as Paris.

It’s growing out of the sides of buildings in Philadelphia, and covers whole forests in Virginia.

No vacation from the globe-trotting Ailanthus tree.