Amid climbing temperatures, toxic trees sprout roots in Schaerbeek

Amid climbing temperatures, toxic trees sprout roots in Schaerbeek
Leaves of sprouts from a cut-down stump of Ailanthus Altissima, or tree of heaven. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A non-native tree deemed toxic to humans has planted its roots in several places around Schaerbeek, in what authorities say is due to the climbing temperatures of the past summers.

Originally found in Australia and China, the tree of heaven can now be spotted in areas around the northern Brussels municipality.

Also known as varnish tree and, in China, as "the foul-smelling tree," local environmental authorities say the species thrives in warm temperatures, spreading rapidly and overcrowding native plants, according to Bruzz.

In Belgium, the tree is blacklisted as an invasive plant species and it is also considered problematic, due to the dangers it can pose to humans and some animals.

"The plant contains certain fluids which, if they get on your skin, could cause irritation and inflammation," Oliver Beck from Bruxelles Environnement told the outlet.

The tree's odours can also lead to nausea and headaches and the skin irritations it causes can lead to weakness and paralysis.

Due to its rapid spread and secretions, the tree is also considered a threat for local biodiversity, and authorities have called on residents to remove it if they came across it in their gardens.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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