A TREE GROWS IN NIMES

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.

9 Responses to “A TREE GROWS IN NIMES”

  1. brian solomon says:

    Nice Roman ruins in Nîmes!

    • mayapple says:

      Too many ruins, not enough time! Maybe next time around we can visit them. The roman ruins in the Mediterranean region really get the imagination going. I remember once walking along the beach in Valencia Spain and finding old tiles and pieces of pottery in the sand.

  2. Richard says:

    Same tree growing in our compost heap in Monson!

    We took the same TGV route & stopped in Nimes to get Francs from an ATM embedded in the wall of a castle — some 10 years ago.

    • mayapple says:

      Are you sure its not a native sumac? The two can be easily confused. Ailanthus has an unpleasant odor when crushed.
      The TGV route was great fun! It rocked back and forth at 186 mph just so that we we both fell asleep for a spell. Awoke to a mediterranean environment!

  3. maureen Solomon says:

    Why is it called Tree of Heaven? Must be a reason.

    • mayapple says:

      It was introduced to the U.S. as an ornamental tree, and was widely planted as a street tree in Philadelphia. In cultivation, under careful pruning, this is a very attractive tree. Once escaped, this tree goes wild, and it quickly grows in a weed-like manner, often dying young and creating a groteseque forest. A ride south on I-81 near Roanoke Va will reveal whole swaths of forest covered with Ailanthus. These are creepy-looking infestations that cover whole hillsides and beyond.
      It just goes to show that something so attractive as to be named tree of heaven can easily become a noxious weed when it is grown out of its natural range.

  4. Sean O says:

    Sounds more like a tree-of-hell. All is well here stateside.

Leave a Reply