Subject: April 15: Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus altissima is a deciduous tree in the quassia family
(Simaroubaceae). It is native to northeast and central China as well
as Taiwan. Unlike other members of the genus Ailanthus, it is found in
temperate climates rather than the tropics. The tree grows rapidly and
is capable of reaching heights of 15 metres (50 ft) in 25 years.
However, the species is also short-lived and rarely lives more than
50 years. A. altissima was first brought from China to Europe in the
1740s and to the United States in 1784. The plant has been spread to
many other areas beyond its native range. In a number of these, it has
become an invasive species due to its ability to quickly colonise
disturbed areas and suppress competition with allelopathic chemicals.
It is considered a noxious weed in Australia, the United States, New
Zealand and several countries in southern and eastern Europe. The tree
also re-sprouts vigorously when cut, making its eradication extremely
difficult and time-consuming. In China, the tree of heaven has a long
and rich history. It was mentioned in the oldest extant Chinese
dictionary and listed in countless Chinese medical texts for its
purported ability to cure ailments ranging from mental illness to
Read the rest of this article:
Today's selected anniversaries:
Baroque composer George Frideric Handel's Serse, an opera loosely
based on Xerxes I of Persia, premiered in London.
A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson was first
The passenger liner RMS Titanic sank about two hours and forty
minutes after colliding with an iceberg, killing over 1,500 people.
Jackie Robinson, the first African American to break the baseball
color line, played his first game in Major League Baseball.
U.S. armed forces launched Operation El Dorado Canyon against Libya.
The death of former Chinese General Secretary Hu Yaobang triggered a
series of events that led to the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing.
Wiktionary's Word of the day:
feckless: Lacking purpose.
Wikiquote of the day:
Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an
immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken
threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every
air-borne particle in its tissue. It is the very atmosphere of the
mind; and when the mind is imaginative — much more when it happens to
be that of a man of genius — it takes to itself the faintest hints of
life, it converts the very pulses of the air into revelations.
-- Henry James