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.
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