tree-of-heaven USDA PLANTS Symbol: AIAL
U.S. Nativity: Exotic
Habit: Hardwood Trees
Ailanthus altissima (P. Mill.) Swingle

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Taxonomic Rank: Magnoliopsida: Sapindales: Simaroubaceae
Synonym(s): tree of heaven, ailanthus, copal tree, stinking shumac, varnish tree, Chinese sumac, paradise-tree
Native Range: China (REHD, BAIL);

Tree of heaven is a rapidly growing, typically small tree up to 80 ft. (24.4 m) in height and 6 ft. (1.8 m) in diameter. It has pinnately compound leaves that are 1-4 ft. (0.3-1.2 m) in length with 10-41 leaflets. Flowering occurs in early summer, when large clusters of yellow flowers develop above the leaves. Fruit produced on female plants are tan to reddish, single winged and wind and water-dispersed. Tree of heaven resembles the sumacs and hickories, but is easily distinguished by the glandular, notched base on each leaflet and large leaf scars on the twigs. It is extremely tolerant of poor soil conditions and can even grow in cement cracks. Trees are not shade tolerant, but thrive in disturbed forests or edges. Dense clonal thickets displace native species and can rapidly take over fields, meadows and harvested forests. Tree of heaven, native to Asia, was first introduced into North America in 1748 by a Pennsylvania gardener. It was widely planted in cities because of its ability to grow in poor conditions.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Selected Images from Invasive.orgView All Images at Invasive.org


Feature(s); Glandular notch at the base of the leaflets. Martin County, KY
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org
Additional Resolutions & Image Usage

Foliage;
Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org
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Foliage;
Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org
Additional Resolutions & Image Usage

Feature(s); Distinctive glands on ears at leaflet bases.
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Bark;
Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org
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Fruit(s); in September
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org
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Sapling(s); Growing in recently cut-over area.
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org
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Foliage;
Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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Fruit(s);
Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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Tree(s);
Ian Trueman, University of Wolverhampton, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org
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Seedling(s);
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
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Tree(s); Trees growing along Interstate Highway 75.
Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); leaf gland in September
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Foliage; August
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Infestation; Infestation along roadside
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s); Staminate inflorescence
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); leaf scar and bud
Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org
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Foliage;
Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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Fruit(s);
Steve Hurst, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 2: 446.
USDA PLANTS Database, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
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Control;
Nancy Dagley, USDI National Park Service, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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EDDMapS Distribution:
This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts and records obtained from USDA Plants Database. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org
 


State(s) Where Reported invasive.
Based on state level agency and organization lists of invasive plants from WeedUS database.

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U.S. National Parks where reported invasive:
Antietam National Battlefield (Maryland)
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park (Virginia)
Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina)
Booker T Washington National Monument (Virginia)
Catoctin Mountain Park (Maryland)
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (Maryland, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia)
Colonial National Historical Park (Virginia)
Death Valley National Park (California)
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (Pennsylvania)
Eisenhower National Historic Site (Pennsylvania)
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park (Virginia)
George Washington Birthplace National Monument (Virginia)
Gettysburg National Military Park (Pennsylvania)
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina & Tennessee)
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (West Virginia)
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Indiana)
Kings Mountain National Military Park (South Carolina)
Manassas National Battlefield Park (Virginia)
Monocacy National Battlefield Park (Maryland)
National Capital Parks East (Washington, D.C.)
Petersburg National Battlefield (Virginia)
Prince William Forest Park (Virginia)
Richmond National Battlefield Park (Virginia)
Rock Creek National Park (Washington, D.C.)
Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)
Stones River National Battlefield (Tennessee)
Vicksburg National Military Park (Mississippi)
Yosemite National Park (California)



Invasive Listing Sources:
Alabama Invasive Plant Council
California Invasive Plant Council
City of Ann Arbor Michigan Parks and Recreation
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 1994.
Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group
Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control, 2004
Faith Campbell, 1998
Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council
Hoffman, R. & K. Kearns, Eds. 1997. Wisconsin manual of control recommendations for ecologically invasive plants. Wisconsin Dept. Natural Resources, Bureau of Endangered Resources. Madison, Wisconsin. 102pp.
Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society
Jil M. Swearingen, Survey of invasive plants occurring on National Park Service lands, 2000-2007
John Randall, The Nature Conservancy, Survey of TNC Preserves, 1995.
Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council
Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.  2003. Invasive Plant Control in Maryland. Home and Garden Information Center, Home and Garden Mimeo HG88. 4 pp.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 1994
Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2005
Missouri Department of Conservation,
Native Plant Society of Oregon, 2008
New Hampshire Invasive Species Committee. 2005. Guide to Invasive Upland Plant Species in New Hampshire. New Hampshire Department of Agriculture,  Markets and Food Plant Industry Division and New Hampshire Invasive Species Committee.
New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry, 2004
North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1998
Pacific Northwest Exotic Pest Plant Council, 1998
Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust, Pennsylvania.
Reichard, Sarah. 1994.  Assessing the potential of invasiveness in woody plants introduced in North America. University of Washington Ph.D. dissertation.
South Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council
Tatyana Livschultz, Pennsylvania survey of invasive plants,
Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council
University of Hawaii, Botany Department, Hawaiian Alien Plant Studies, 1998
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2009