Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several deciduous Asian trees of the genus Ailanthus, especially the tree-of-heaven.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of several deciduous Asiatic trees, of the genus Ailanthus, including the tree of heaven

Etymologies

New Latin Ailanthus, genus name, alteration (influenced by Greek anthos, flower) of Ambonese ai lanto, tree of heaven : ai, tree + lanto, heaven.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From New Latin Ailanthus, from Ambonese ai lanto ("tree (of) heaven") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "I am sure I told you that they would not live here in the open air, but they do in China; and the ailanthus is a Chinese tree.

    Among the Trees at Elmridge

  • A giant ailanthus tree, at least fifty feet tall, was growing up right between the derelict seats.

    The Lampshade

  • People walking their dogs go by or wait while their inquisitive pets sniff around the ailanthus in front of the house.

    David Finkle: Stooping to the Highest Level

  • I was hoping to find a crack in the pavement where my ailanthus of a poem could take root.

    THE ANTHOLOGIST

  • I crossed a vacant lot, a parking lot filled with cinders and broken glass and longed for an ailanthus tree to break the prison-gray walls and ground all around.

    All the Way to Heaven is Heaven

  • When I read how many thousands of dollars a city like New York has to spend to keep underground water pipes free of ailanthus, ginko, and sycamore roots, I cannot help but give a little cheer.

    Nature & Environment

  • They saw the ailanthus jungle and the smash heap of mortified cars and they looked at the six-story slab of painted angels with streamers rippled above their cherub heads.

    Underworld

  • Close-set buildings, laundry lines, slant light, patches of weeds, a few would-be gardens and bare ailanthus trees and the fire escapes that fixed fretwork patterns of light and shade on the walls and paved surfaces.

    Underworld

  • Edgar looked out a window and saw someone moving among the poplars and ailanthus trees in the most overgrown part of the rubbled lots.

    Underworld

  • But she has a huge pine, a wild, rambling rose bush that hasn't been pruned in decades, weed trees like ailanthus, walnut, and a scrubby little maple, and she never mows.

    Every cloud has a silver lining.

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  • "Booth remained on his horse under the cover of a shaggy ailanthus tree in the yard."
    —James L. Swanson, Manhunt: The 12-Day Search for Lincoln's Killer, 164

    May 29, 2008