A weed tree


No, not that weed.

The first week of September, I was on my weekly bus trip to my pharmacy in a (now) distant part of town.  The bus turned the corner by the Family Dollar where I used to work, and that I was very happy with when I went there some months back to buy clothes.

Out front, there’s a patch of shrubbery, a couple square yards.  I saw two trees growing out of there, 8-10 feet tall, and said, “Man, they’ve got to cut those down.”

These were specimens of the “tree of heaven,” also called “the tree from hell” and the “ghetto palm,” Ailanthus altissima.

I’ve always found them unsightly.  They’re invasive and fast-growing.  The wood is useless, and if you break a branch, there’s a foul smell; thus their name in Chinese, “椿; chòuchūnlit.: ‘foul smelling tree’.”  An earlier version of the Wikipedia article said it’s also called “the poverty tree,” because it tends to grow where poor people live.  In the city, that’s the only place you’ll see them.  No one plants them on purpose.

Can it be that the spiritual darkness of such places somehow manifests in, or translates to, conditions of soil and climate and so forth, that attract these pests?

Related: Weeds in the sidewalk

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