tree-of-Heaven Simaroubaceae Ailanthus
altissima (Mill.) Swingle symbol: AIAL
|Leaf: Alternate, pinnately compound, 1 to 3 feet long, with 11 to 41 leaflets, leaflets are 2 to 6 inches long, pointed at the tip with large, glandular teeth near the base, green above and below.
Flower: Species is dioecious; small yellow-green, in long (6 to 12 inches) clusters, males have a disagreeable odor, appearing in late spring to early summer.
Fruit: An oblong, twisted samara, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long with the seed in the center, hanging in long clusters, ripens in late summer and disperse through the winter.
Twig: Stout, yellow to red-brown, with fine velvety hairs when young, easily broken with a large reddish brown pith; buds are relatively small and half-spherical sitting above large, heart-shaped leaf scars; terminal bud is absent. Strong odor (some are reminded of peanut butter) when broken.
Bark: Thin, light brown to gray, resembles the skin of a cantaloupe when young, later turning darker gray and rough.
Form: A short to medium sized tree to 70 feet with heavy, open branches. Lower branches on larger trees tend to droop. Often grows in clumps.
Looks like: smooth sumac
- smooth sumac
- Kentucky coffeetree
- poison sumac
| Additional Range Information:
Ailanthus altissima is planted in the USDA
hardiness zones shown above and may seed
into the landscape. See
states reporting tree-of-Heaven.
| External Links:
Silvics of North America
USDA Plants Database
|© Copyright 2015, Virginia Tech|
Dept. of Forest Resources
and Environmental Conservation,
all rights reserved.
Photos and text by: John Seiler,
Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera,
and John Peterson