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Point Mountain Reservation
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Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima).  This is an invasive plant, native to central China, which was “first introduced to America by a gardener in Philadelphia, PA, in 1784, and by 1840 was commonly available from nurseries.”  The plant is a prolific seed producer and quickly takes over, outcompeting native plants and causing them to die.  Tree of heaven “produces toxins that prevent the establishment of other plant species [and] the root system is aggressive enough to cause damage to sewers and foundations” (Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group).  This compound leaf smells like peanut butter when damaged.   CLICK IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW

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Photographs by Valerie Lykes