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Ailanthus, Raymond E. Hollenbach, Chinese Sumac, Himmelsbaum, plant lore, tree-of-heaven
A handwritten letter from Raymond E. Hollenbach addressed to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dating from circa 1950. Within, Hollenbach discusses the plant lore of a tree known as Ailanthus. Hollenbach speculates that Ailanthus might also be what the Pennsylvania-Dutch call the Himmelsbaum.
Raymond E. Hollenbach
Alfred L. Shoemaker
Himmelsbaum = ailanthus, also called "Tree of Heaven" and "Chinese Sumac".
This tree is a native of China and was not introduced into this country until some time around the middle of the last century.
If this is the "himmelsbaum" to which the Penna. Dutch attribute protective powers against lightning, this belief must be of local origin.
This tree is not mentioned in any of a number of British and German books on plant lore.
The tree has leaves something like a sumac, and grows on almost any ash pile - there is one of these trees in many backyards in the old part of Philadelphia.
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Hollenbach, Raymond E., "Letter From Raymond E. Hollenbach to Alfred L. Shoemaker" (1950). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 23.
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