Wednesday, May 26, 2010


This tree is no angel.

The Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissma), native to China, is a fast growing, deciduous tree that can reach up to 80 feet in height and 6 feet in diameter. Unlike me, it can flourish in unfavorable conditions and requires little care.

So what makes the Tree-of-Heaven an invasive tree species? It is a prolific seed producer - each tree can produce as many as 325,000 seeds - and it grows fast, nudging out native species. The tissue of the tree also contains a compound called ailanthone that is toxic to many other plant species.

Since the Tree-of-Heaven poses such an environmental threat its removal does not require replacement under the
District Urban Forest Preservation Act. Removal is easiest as a seedling and after its rained when the soil is loose. Be sure to remove the entire root since broken fragments may re-sprout.

The Tree-of-Heaven is NOT eligible for the
$50 Tree Rebate. Visit our website for a list of trees that Casey Trees has had great success in planting in the District.


Tree of Heaven 101:

  • Deciduous
  • Grows up to 80 feet
  • Odd or even pinnately compound leaves with 10-41 leaflets on 1 - 3 foot stalks
  • Leaves smell like peanut butter when crushed
  • Bark is light gray; rough
  • Yellow-greenish flowers in April - June
  • Wing-shaped fruit appears from July - February

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