Close window

Ailanthus triphysa (SIMAROUBACEAE) White Bean, White Sirus

Image: form

Ailanthus triphysa
Photo: Robert Whyte Location: Mt Nebo Road near Jolly's ookout.

Fast growing single-stemmed pioneer to 30m in dry, littoral and subtropical rainforest north from Iluka NSW with large compound leaves of up to 60 leaflets asymmetrical at the base.

A. altissima is dioecious, with male and female flowers being borne on different individuals. Male trees produce three to four times as many flowers as the females, making the male flowers more conspicuous. Furthermore, the male plants emit a foul-smelling odour while flowering to attract pollinating insects. (Wiki)

Branchlets covered with many leaf scars. Young stems pubescent. Bark grey, rough. Leaves usually with a terminal leaflet.

Flowers are cream/green in narrow panicles from upper leaf axils. November-January.

Fruit is a brownish, dry winged samara up to 5cm long and usually held in a cluster of three. Ripe March-April.

Image: Juvenile

Ailanthus - white siris
Photo: Robert Whyte Location: Yoorala Street near Enogerra Reservoir.

Fast growing and hardy. It develops a sparse branched, open crown. Candelabrum type branch structure and the crown of leaflets gives its foliage a feathery appearance. The sap of this plant contains alkaloids that have been used for medicinal preparations.

The Genus also native to Asia - found in wet evergreen forests of the western Ghats, from the Konkan, North Kanara and Karnataka southwards to Travancore. Grown extensively in India.

The generic name 'Ailanthus' comes from 'ailanthos' (tree of heaven), the Indonesian name for Ailanthus moluccana, triphysa from Greek "tri" three and "physa" bladder, perhaps referring to the flattened bladder-like fruits in groups of three.

Propagate by direct sowing or raise in nurseries to tubestock. Seedlings are vulnerable to weeds and shade.

Image: Leaf closeup

Ailanthus triphysa
Photo: Robert Whyte Location: Mt Nebo Road near Jolly's Lookout.

A useful shade provider. Leaf litter restores soil fertility. Often planted for aesthetic purposes.

Another species, A. altissima, is a native of northern and central China, and an invasive species widely elsewhere.

The number of species is disputed, with some authorities accepting up to ten species, while others accept six or fewer. Species include:

Ailanthus altissima China
Ailanthus excelsa - India and Sri Lanka
Ailanthus integrifolia - New Guinea, Australia
Ailanthus malabarica - southeast Asia
Ailanthus triphysa - Australia
Ailanthus vilmoriniana - China

A silk spinning moth, the Ailanthus moth (Samia cynthia), lives on Ailanthus leaves, and yields a silk more durable and cheaper than mulberry silk, but inferior. Other Lepidoptera whose larvae feed on Ailanthus include Endoclita malabaricus. (WIKIPEDIA.)

References and resources