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Ailanthus

Ailanthus

Introduction

Tree of Heaven is native to China and was brought to the United States in the late 1700's as a horticultural specimen and shade tree. Its ease of establishment, rapid growth and absence of insect or disease problems made it popular when planning urban landscaping. It is common throughout the much of the eastern U.S.  This rapidly-growing tree can reach heights of 80’, and can quickly dominate plant communities.  Tree of Heaven produces chemicals in its roots that prevent other plant species from growing around it, thereby creating monocultural Tree of Heaven stands.  When crushed, leaves and other parts of the plant produce a very rancid odor.  This tree will grow most anywhere, including cracks in the sidewalk and in very dry areas.  Tree of Heaven is very difficult to control, as it spreads both by seed (it is a prolific seed producer) and by root suckering and resprouting.  When cut, the tree sends up large numbers of smaller shoots and root sprouts.  

Identification

The tree of heaven is a rapidly growing deciduous tree with pale gray bark, light brown twigs and large pinnately compound leaves.

Current Situation

Management

Tree of Heaven can be controlled with herbicides.  Herbicides, both foliar (e.g. glyphosate) and bark injection (e.g. triclopyr), may be effective if applied during summer.

What Can You Do?

Resources

Southern Forest Health: Tree of Heaven

The Nature Conservancy

Contacts

Nathan Hoover

Forest Health Forester
(615) 289-7373
Nathan.Hoover@tn.gov