An Unwelcome Volunteer

Typically I’m excited to find unexpected plants cropping up in the garden; I know many people would classify these surprise visitors as weeds, but I’m usually happy to find something new that’s vibrant enough to make a go of it in the challenging environment of our sidewalk containers.

However there are a few exceptions, and when I noticed that a “tree of heaven” (Ailanthus altissima) had cropped up in one of the big grapevine planters, I knew it had to be removed. This invasive species not only has a tendency to crowd out other plants, it’s a preferred food source for the spotted lanternfly — spotted lanternflies flourish and produce more eggs when tree of heaven is present, and then go on to attack other nearby plants.

This unwelcome volunteer has now been banished to the city’s organics recycling bin, and I’ll keep an eye out for any siblings that may be lurking nearby.