This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
This elegant shade-tree was introduced from North China in 1751, and brought its name with it - Ailanto, or Tree of the Gods. It has, however, been better appreciated in France and Italy than in this country. It grows to a height of fifty or sixty feet. The leaves are compound, pinnate, a fact that might easily be overlooked, for the whole leaf is so large - sometimes as much as six feet in length - that its stalk and mid-rib might well be mistaken for a branch clothed with opposite leaves. The leaflets are toothed, and the teeth bear glands on the lower side, whence the specific name. Its flowers, which open in August, are borne in clusters at the end of the branches. They are small, greenish-white in colour, and give off an evil odour. There are two forms of flowers, the one consisting of a five-parted calyx, five petals, and ten stamens; the other with calyx and petals the same, but fewer stamens and three, four, or five ovaries. The flowers are not represented in our illustration, the drawing having been made when the tree was in fruit. These will be seen to look like small imitations of ash-keys. It is a rapid grower in almost any soil, though it succeeds best in a light humid earth, and appreciates a little shelter. Its leaves are the favourite food of one of the large silk-producing moths (Attacus cynthia), but most other insects disapprove of it.
Tree of the Gods.
Ailantus glandulosa. - Xanthoxylaceae. The False Sycamore or Norway Maple (A.platanoides) is the species shown in our figure. It is a native of Europe, introduced to England in 1683. It is a considerable-sized tree, attaining a height of about sixty feet. Its leaves are heart-shaped in outline, five-lobed, sharply pointed, with a few large sharp teeth. The flowers appear in April and May; bright yellow. The samaras are brown, the wings widely diverging.