Learning what a “ghetto palm” is

Read this great article in the Washington Post today – what a cool idea! The naturalist Peter del Tredici (see article) is actually working on a field guide to “northeast urban plants”. Think about those abandoned lots you see – sprouting with many more plants and life than the local grocery store parking lot. Isn’t it interesting to think about which plants can survive in hot, dry or wet, concrete covered, toxic environments? One of the plants featured in this article was Alianthus altissima which of course now I realize I have seen many times.

In fact, there’s one growing in my back yard, between the concrete pad and the neighbor’s chain link fence (and their concrete pad) – it doesn’t even appear there is any soil there. Additionally, the tree is growing through the chain link fence – threaded through and amongst the holes. It wasn’t even there a year ago. I’ll take a picture tomorrow. How fascinating to think that one poor species of tree has been branded the “ghetto palm” for its ability to grow in abandoned cityscapes? I think a landscape with some green is always better than gray – especially when the alternatives are pesticides, motorized chainsaws, expensive and ultimately fruitless tree eradication and sidewalk weed-chopping, and so on.  I quite like the “Tree of Heaven” even though it smells a little funny.

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