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Tree of Heaven

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  • Common Name: Tree of Heaven
  • Latin Name: Ailanthus altissima
  • Family Name: Simaroubaceae
This fast-growing tree contains ailanthone, which inhibits the growth of other plants in the area of the tree, and other several mildly toxic compounds (plus tannins), which are reported to be toxic to domestic animals.  It is often planted in cities as it is one of the most pollutant tolerant of trees, and it absorbs many noxious chemicals, including sulphur dioxide, into its leaves, so this is not one to include in the tortoise diet.  All parts of this plant have a particular unpleasant odour, which is said to resemble the smell of peanuts or rotting cashew nuts.

One feature that distinguishes this tree from the Ash, Sumac or Walnut which have similar leaves is that at the base of each leaflet are small tooth-like structures which are actually green, circular glands at the end of a vein, and on the underside of each 'tooth' you can see a small dot that is the gland bump.
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