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April 24, 2008
Marietta Times
Marietta Natural

History Society

The April program of the Marietta Natural History Society was presented by Gerald Scott, a graduate student in the Forest Ecology Lab at Ohio University. His topic, which is also the focus of his research project, was tree-of-heaven.

Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is native to China and Southeast Asia. It was first brought to this country to Philadelphia in 1784. Chinese immigrants who were helping build the western railroads introduced it to the West Coast in the 1800s. It has now spread to 42 states.

Tree-of-heaven germinates readily in disturbed environments — along railroads and highways and riverbanks that have been scoured by high water. Seeds that spend only three to four days in the water have a higher germination rate. The seeds are wind-dispersed. Trees usually live for 40 to 80 years but can live longer. Sprouts still grow from the 1784 Philadelphia tree.

The species is dioecious, which means there are male and female trees. A large female tree may produce more than 100,000 seeds each year. The seeds remain viable for only a year, but they can germinate on many substrates. Trees can reach maturity in three to five years when the females will begin producing huge numbers of seeds.

Tree-of-heaven is reputed to be the fastest growing tree in the country. Growth does slow after about 20 years as more energy is allocated to crown development. Although it is now known to be shade-tolerant, large clones are formed if the original tree begins to be shaded with many new trees sprouting from the roots. If the original tree is cut, more root sprouts will emerge. The species is drought tolerant and it does colonize degraded land and extreme urban environments.

Chemicals which probably give the leaves and twigs an unpleasant odor (leading to the nickname of “stink tree”) may cause myocarditis when the wood is cut. Some research is being done on tree-of-heaven providing treatments for malaria and HIV.

There are no biological controls in the U.S. — wildlife and livestock may browse it, but Ailanthus certainly is not a preferred food. Leaves are a food source for the Ailanthus webworm but trees are not sufficiently defoliated for significant control to occur.

The aggressiveness of the species in a woodland setting slows the growth of desirable tree species and many woodland wildflowers are eliminated. Tree-of-heaven alters soil processes so both wildlife and timber economy are negatively affected. On the other hand, timbering operations encourage germination of tree-of-heaven as does opening the canopy by emerald ash borer-killed ash trees, ice storms and fire.

The presentation was followed by a discussion of control methods by those who have had experience with this serious threat to healthy woodlands.

A video of the presentation will soon be available at the Washington County Public Library.

Jim Davidson, an experienced naturalist who volunteers with the Columbus Metro Parks and other venues, will present a program on “Wetland Communities” at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 8, in Room 143, Selby Hall, at Marietta College. The public is invited to attend.

Franciscan Meals board

The Franciscan Meals board met on April 10 at Shoney’s restaurant for its regular monthly meeting.

Chairman Paul Young was welcomed back for the year. Bob Doak, a longtime volunteer who recently passed away, was remembered.

Elva Stuart opened the meeting with prayer. Vice Chairman Konna Huck presided over the business meeting.

Treasurer Norma Lang reported that 79 volunteers (both office workers and drivers) volunteered 316 hours to deliver 593 meals during the month of March.

Anyone interested in having meals delivered to their home should call the Franciscan Meals office at 373-7998 or Joan Rech at 373-6942 for more information.

The Franciscan Meals program is a non-profit organization and is affiliated with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

¯ For more information: Franciscan Meals office at 373-7998 or Paul Young at 374-7427.

American Legion 389 Auxiliary

American Legion Auxiliary Unit 389, Beverly, met on April 7 with President Marilyn Leach presiding.

Leach announced that the Poppy Shop visitation would be in April. Summer convention will be held June 7 at Belle Valley and the Department Convention will be held July 10 through 13 at Dayton. The B &W Homecoming will be July 17 to 19.

It was reported that another successful 5K Bunny Hop was held and donations were made to the fire department and emergency squad.

Arlene Pennock gave a short program on projects the unit does for children and youth in the community, such as the R.I.F. program, Toys for Children and Josh Dogs. Two members also work every year on Special Olympics.

Pam Jackson reported on the Buckeye Girls State program. Interviews were held March 16 with delegates from Fort Frye High School to be Jillian Pawloski and Kelsey Ring, with Ayla Long as alternate. Delegates from Waterford High School are Haley Carr, Stephanie Watkins, Kelli Miller and Katie Simms.

The unit will purchase an American flag, an Ohio flag and a POW/MIA flag for the veterans memorial the Lions club erected on Ohio 60.

The annual poker run will be held Oct. 4. There will be a drawing for a Harley Davidson XL1200N Sportster.

The charter was draped for deceased member Lorene “Boots” Bloxham.

Lorretta Korte and Misty Work were accepted as new members.

Washington County P.E.R.I.

Washington County Chapter 51 of Public Employee Retirees Inc. (P.E.R.I.) met on April 8 with President Susan Almond presiding. The meeting opened with prayer and the pledge to the flag.

It was reported that the chapter needs to get more people interested as members need to be active to fight for benefits. By the efforts of members, HB 151 was killed. This bill dealt with investments in Iran and Sudan and it reportedly would have cost OPERS $4 billion in revenue and $4 million in paperwork alone.

It was also reported that keeping benefits is a constant battle because of other retirement systems wanting to unite with the group’s system.

The district meeting will be held May 12 at American Legion Post 64. Registration will start at 9 a.m. and the meeting will start at 10 a.m. Marietta Mayor Mike Mullen will greet those attending. The state president of P.E.R.I. will be in attendance. Insurance representatives will also be present to answer questions.

There will not be a regular meeting in May as it would fall the day after the district meeting.

Sand Hill UMW

The Sand Hill United Methodist Women of Reno met on April 10 at the church. The meeting was opened with Anna Butler reading devotions and reporting on the sick.

Longtime member Eliner North passed away on April 4 and a dinner was served by the group for the family after the funeral.

Marie McKay thanked members for helping with “UMW Sunday.” The Crownsmen were guests for the service and gave their message with their music.

Some new cooking pans and utensils were purchased for the kitchen with money raised from the soup dinner.

The treasurer reported that the building fund pledge was paid and that the yearly donation to the resident of the Washington County Home had been paid.

The Mother/Other dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 8 at the church. The Phillips School Choir will be guests at the dinner. All women of the church are invited to attend. Those attending are asked to take a covered dish and a guest.

The education and interpretation program was presented by Karen Hunsaker, clinical therapist from Marietta Memorial Hospital. She spoke on stress and pain management, including ways to avoid stress, and how to change yourself if you can’t change others. She also had handouts for those attending.

Hostesses were Brenda Schafer and Irene Stevens.

Muskingum Garden Club

Muskingum Garden Club met on April 8 at the home of Ruth Stewart for a noon luncheon. The table and home were decorated with spring flowers.

Stewart conducted the business meeting and gave the devotions by reading “Halfway to God.” Plans were made to attend the board meeting on April 12 at Chester and the regional meeting on April 26 at Pomeroy.

It was announced that there would be a judges school on May 19 and 20 at Columbus. There will also be a Road Show bus trip on May 10 to Wooster that will include a stop at Baker’s Greenhouse.

Garden hints were given by Helen Drake on the Monarch butterfly. Plants that attract the butterflies are milkweed plants, zinnias, cosmos, phlox and butterfly bush.

Ruth Stewart presented a program on “Container Gardens,” which can be used on decks, patios and porches. Some plants need shade and some need sun. Drainage is necessary, and a one-inch layer of sphagnum moss, then potting soil, should be used.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, May 12, at the home of Phoebia Doak. There will be a plant and bulb exchange.


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