Ailanthus altissima

Leaf buds in late April
New leaves are red in mid-May
Stem growing on rock
Leaves expand and become green in late May
Leaves mostly green by late May
Leaves mostly green and stalks elongate by early June
Leaves are darker green when growing in shade
Branch tips with red tufts of leaves mid-May
Leaves fully expanded by mid-May
Showy white flowers
Impressive flexibility of trunk

The tree-of-heaven was introduced to the U.S. in 1784 because it was considered a beautiful garden plant.  Horticultural advocates were probably unaware of its rather less exalted name in its native China, where it is called chouchun (臭椿) or stinky tree, referring to the foul odor released when branches are cut.   

In the first chapter of  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, an accurate description of its growth habits becomes a metaphor for the importance of perseverance in overcoming adversities in life.  “No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. ”

At Salter Grove, large and small individuals grow on the edge of woods and lawn south of the parking lot.