Tree of Heaven.

Newsgroups: bionet.plants
From: (Michael Moore)
Date: 10 Nov 1995 01:13:29 GMT
Subject: Re: Tree of Heaven-Ailanthus

> Is anyone out there working on removing Tree of Heaven within state parks, national parks, national forests, or any other types of preserves? What techniques are you using? What types of habitats are you seeing Ailanthus in? Is anybody seeing Ailanthus in riparian areas?

I don't know about eradication methods, but I have seen several well-established colonies by waterways ... the Big Ditch park in Silver City, New Mexico has banks thickly covered by Ailanthus ... they often refer to it as "Cancer Tree" because it keeps on growing, no matter what you do to it. I have also seen extensive stands growing in waterways SW of Prescott, Arizona. and along suburban creeks in Globe, Arizona.

In fact, I have come to expect it in ANY older mining town in the southwest and California. It has a long history of folk use in China as an antiamoebic agent. Professional Chinese practitioners seem to use it very rarely ... it seems rather to have been a homely remedy ... like Chamomile ... ordinary folks used it, while learned practitioners used more sophisticated remedies. Since at least a million male Chinese nationals were brought into the west in the 19th century for virtual slave labor, and there were Chinese enclaves in virtually every western mining town, I have come to presume that the many colonies that flourish in these old mining and timbering towns were planted by these Chinese men, aggressively kept both single AND ostracized by developer-barons of the era. (I hope their story is told SOMEWHERE ... it sounds pretty damn depressing to me)

Since MOST folks traveling a long way from their home have various difficulties with traveler's diarrhea, I have just come to presume these Chinese men brought a few plants with them, such as Ailanthus, to help with "White-Eye's Revenge".

Ailanthus is in the Simarubaceae Family, and, like most such taxa, are heavily invested in the glycosides that are characteristic of the family ... and, like Quassia (Picraena/Picrasma spp.), Chaparro Amargosa (Holacantha spp.) and Cascara Amarga (Castela spp. and others), is known to have substantial anti-protozoal effects.

Are you aware of any research that validates or invalidates this herbalist's casual observation?