Shrubs and Trees

Shrubs and Trees
African sheepbush
African sumac
Camelthorn
Himalayan blackberry
Lilac chastetree
Russian olive
Saltcedar
Siberian elm
Sweet resinbush
Tree-of-heaven

 

Tree of Heaven
Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle (Quassia family, Simaroubaceae)
 

Description

Usually a small to medium sized, fast growing, deciduous tree 40 to 90 feet tall, open canopy spread 35 to 50 feet; trunks up to 36 inches in diameter; few, coarse branches, smooth stems with pale gray thin bark; twigs which are light chestnut brown, especially in the dormant season; all parts of the tree, especially the leaves and flowers, have a nutty or burned nut odor.

Leaves: Leaves evenly pinnately compound, large to 1 to 4 feet in length; alternate and composed of 10 to 41 smaller leaflets, 4 to 8 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide; each leaflet has one or more glandular teeth along the lower margin; margins are otherwise entire or lacking teeth, ciliate.

Flowers: Flowers April to June; tree of heaven is dioecious, male and female flowers occur on separate plants; flowers occur in large terminal clusters 8 to 16 inches in diameter; flowers are small green to pale yellow, turning bright red to brown when ripe.

Fruit: Fruits grow in clusters of 1-seeded, dry samaras, resembling maple fruits, 1-1/2 inches long, on female trees; flat, twisted, winged fruits each containing a single central seed.

Habitat

Cultivated and disturbed or degraded moist sites in washes, meadows, grasslands, woodlands, and forest communities, and roadsides within elevations that generally range below 6,200 feet.

Propagation/Phenology

Tree of heaven is a fast growing, prolific seed producer; an individual tree can produce as many as 325,000 seeds per year; as well as a persistent stump and root sprouter.

Comments

Native to China; once established, tree of heaven is difficult to control; it also produces chemicals that prevent the establishment of other plant species nearby; plant looks similar to native walnut. New Mexico Class B noxious weed.

Collage of images of Tree of Heaven

 
Forest Service Shield
Invasive plants and weeds of the national forests and grasslands in the southwestern region
Tree of heaven foliage and flowers Tree of heaven foliage and fruit Tree of heaven  bark Tree of heaven  plant