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Tree of Heaven

Tree of Heaven
Ailanthus altissima1

The Ailanthus Tree, or Tree of Heaven is an invasive and unwanted tree that grows thickly along Okanagan Centre Road West. The Municipality of Lake Country has been attempting to eradicate as much as possible along the roadways, and has been encouraging property owners to eradicate large specimens on their properties. An extremely large Ailanthus, measuring five feet at the base, was removed recently from the corner of Camp Road and Okanagan Centre Road West. The trees are very rapid growers and secrete chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants. The male specimens are also noxious smelling.

The Ailanthus, originally from China, was once considered a desirable exotic tree, and added to many cultivated gardens. One of these gardeners was Northcote Caesar, owner of the Sundial Ranch. Northcote Caesar had kept eighteen acres of the Rainbow Ranche property, along Okanagan Lake on the north side, when he sold the rest of his share in the Rainbow in the early 1900’s. There, he and his wife established a large ornamental garden, with a Sundial as a centrepiece. According to Anne (Goldie) Land, daughter of the Rainbow Ranche manager, Caesar planted a number of exotic plants, including, alas, the Ailanthus.

Tree of Heaven flower
Ailanthus Altissima Flower2

Anne Land and her husband Sid, were given an Ailanthus as a wedding present by the Caesars in the mid 1940s, and they planted it in their lawn at the corner of 4th and Okanagan Centre Road (just north of the Lake Country Museum & Archives), an action that she remembers with regret. The tree, or more likely its suckers, is still thriving there.

1 Ailanthus altissima —  Wikipedia

2 Ailanthus Tree flower — Wikipedia

 

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