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Allelopathic and Herbicidal Effects of Extracts from Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

Rod M. Heisey
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 77, No. 5 (May, 1990), pp. 662-670
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2444812
Page Count: 9
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Allelopathic and Herbicidal Effects of Extracts from Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
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Abstract

Mature trees of Ailanthus altissima produce one or more potent inhibitors of seed germination and seedling growth. Inhibitor activity is highest in bark, especially of roots, intermediate in leaflets, and low in wood. Crude extracts of Ailanthus root bark and leaflets corresponding to 34 and 119 mg water extractable material/L, respectively, caused 50% inhibition of cress radicle growth. Ailanthus seeds also contain one or more inhibitors. These are bound within the seed by the pericarp but diffuse into water agar when the pericarp is removed. The inhibitor(s) could readily be extracted from Ailanthus tissues with methanol, but not dichloromethane, indicating polar characteristics. Ailanthus leaflets had highest inhibitory activity during expansion in spring, whereas activity of trunk bark peaked just before emergence of leaves. This pattern suggests transport of allelochemicals from bark into new leaves. A comparison of seven plant species for sensitivity to the inhibitor(s) from Ailanthus root bark showed little selectivity, although velvetleaf was somewhat more resistant. The inhibitor(s) from Ailanthus root bark exhibited strong herbicidal effects when sprayed pre- and postemergence on plants in soil in the greenhouse. Postemergence effects were striking, with nearly complete mortality of all species, except velvetleaf, at even the lowest doses tested. The results suggest the allelochemical(s) from Ailanthus may have potential for development as natural-product herbicides.

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