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Tree of Heaven

TREES

GENUS/SPECIES


Ailanthus altissima

FAMILY


Simaroubaceae

SYNONYMS


Common: Ailanthus Varnish Tree

DISTRIBUTION


Found in all US states with the exception of Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Vermont, and New Hampshire

Comments

Tree of Heaven is a fast-growing, deciduous tree that can reach 49 feet in 25 years. The Tree of Heaven can clone itself almost indefinitely through suckering. Therefore, it is considered an invasive species. The bark is smooth and light gray, often becoming rougher with light tan fissures as the tree matures. The branches are also gray and smooth. The leaves are large and alternate. They range in size from 1-3 feet in length and contain leaflets organized in pairs. Leaves emerge in the spring a bronze color, then quickly turn to a dark green. Small flowers appear in panicles up to 20 inches in length at the ends of new shoots. These flowers are yellowish green to reddish, each with five petals and sepals. Sepals are cup-shaped and united, while the petals are valvate, white, and hairy. They appear from mid-April to July, depending on the climate. Tree of Heaven has a characteristic foul-smelling odor.