This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I noticed an article in Country Gentleman on Ail-anthus. We grow the tree but do not recommend it for durability; and you may recollect how quickly I called your attention to an error in Gardener's Monthly, where you had me as recommending it for durability. You will see that we recommend it as being of value for fuel and cabinet work. Prof. C. S. Sargent is having it tested on Boston and Providence Railroad, for ties, along with Catalpa and other kinds.
You will see by our mailing circular that we only recommend it south of forty degrees and especially recommend it for poor, dry, barren land only. We are planting two hundred acres of Ailanthus for a Boston capitalist, four by five feet, in Southeast Kansas ; also planting them on the railroad tree section in same locality, where small one and a half year old trees, cut off to four inches of ground, make a growth the first year equal to broom handles and hoe-handles, and do not kill back at all. We find that seedlings do not sucker at all so far, and as the trees shade the ground completely after two years' growth there can be no danger of suckers till the plantation is thinned.
I don't think Ailanthus trees have been planted to the extent you intimate, and it is all a mistake about there being an "enormous demand for them in the West," as I think we are the only firm who have offered them until this season. Now, you will perhaps be surprised to learn that of all we have grown and sold, at least two-thirds of them have been sold to eastern parties and the remaining one-third has gone mostly to California, Oregon, Salt Lake and Texas. The Mormons call it the Paradise tree.
I think the Ailanthus fills a place for the Jersey shore, and the arid lands in the far West, where no other tree will do as well or be as profitable. Somehow it has become a habit with eastern men to give the western men some hard hits, and for this reason it is a great satisfaction to me to be able to say that this tree was grown by us at the suggestion of eastern men ; two men, who have said little, but have been the means of more forest trees being planted than any other two men in America.
It may interest you to know that with the two hundred acres of Ailanthus, referred to above, we are planting three hundred acres of Catalpa speciosa, and sixty acres of white Ash, five hundred and sixty acres in one body. Within four miles of this plantation lies the railroad section, six hundred and forty acres. The incessant rains last Fall, and at present, will retard us so that we will not get all planted till next Fall.
[Our remarks on the paragraph in the Country Gentleman, were not intended as hits at anybody. It seems as if nothing positive is known about the value of the Ailanthus wood, and it is desirable to get this information if we can. - Ed. G. M].