How to deal with paradise trees?


Those wineberries I mentioned yesterday are voracious growers, but they’re nothing compared to ailanthus trees. Native to China, ailanthus are known in these parts as tree of heaven or paradise trees, both of which monikers completely fail to address their diabolical attributes. Namely: If you have one, you’ll soon have gazillions. They grow like lightning. They smell foul if you cut them down. And more importantly, cutting them only encourages them—they’ll send up five new shoots to replace the one you cut.

We are blessed with plenty of paradise at our house. Our land seems to have been logged at some point in the recent past, and ailanthus is an opportunistic species that loves to take over disturbed areas. (Thus you’ll often see them growing along roadsides.) We have big swaths of them in and amongst other trees, and they’re forever popping up around the house and yard.

Here’s a small, innocent-looking one.

And here’s what would happen if we let it go.

I see these trees as a problem at our place because they make it hard for other species to grow. But getting rid of them (other than carefully pulling up those baby ones by the roots, which I do constantly) would not be easy.

What’s interesting is that some of the most green-minded people I know have told me to use pesticides on paradise trees. I’m very reluctant to make the exception, especially because many of the trees are near our well, but if I’m to believe what I’m told, it’s either use Roundup or just live with them.

For now, they’re still growing like crazy. Has anyone else tackled these beasts? How’d you do it?