Hardiness: USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F) USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F) USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F) USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F) USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F) USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F) USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F) USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F) USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F) USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade
Danger: Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Bloom Color: Green
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Other details: Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater May be a noxious weed or invasive
Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) 7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: From leaf cuttings From herbaceous stem cuttings From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
Seed Collecting: Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
This tree has damaged our foundation here in Ohio and attacked our porch. We have a tree in the front yard it was around, and thought we had gotten it out but now there are limbs shooting straight up from the normal limbs of the tree.
Has anybody ever seen this stupid tree parasite another? It's the creepiest thing I have ever seen.
On Jul 30, 2012, SaberLily from Winchester, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:
Fortunately, buying and selling this plant in my state is illegal due to the havoc it's created in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, its already so prolific that it's taken over large areas and killed off many native species. (The horrible rotting-peanut smell is an herbicide it produces to inhibit competition) But for such an aggressive, rugged species, it's an extremely short-lived tree, living roughly 20 years on average and rarely over 50 years. It compensates though seeds that almost always root and suckers under the ground. Seedlings are fairly simple to eradicate, but the suckers are much more difficult. The NPS and USDA sites have a good list of recommended ways to manage this problematic plant.
Incidentally, the low-growing shrubs which feature the beautiful red plumes are our native Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) which does not have serrated leaves and acts as an ample food source for native wildlife.
On Jul 29, 2012, empressjenf from Lebanon, PA wrote:
I am glad to finally know what the mysterious plant growing outside my kitchen window is. I wouldn't mind the tree if it wasn't growing in my basement window well! I have been debating planting flowering shrubs on either side of the window well but have been hesitant because this thing keeps growing to a ridiculous size. Unfortunately I rent, so I am limited on what I am allowed to do to remove it. The landscaping and/or lawn crew here really don't know what they're doing and have trimmed this tree back once, which of course it grew much bigger afterwards. This summer I trimmed it myself since our ex-neighbors left trash laying around and it had blown into the window well under the tree (or they stuffed it there so they didn't have to deal wth it, either could be true). I didn't care for the tree before, but after the smell I really want it gone. It was here before we moved in, so it was already well established, just cut back every so often I guess. At least now I know what I'm dealing with and can attempt a removal, or try to kill it. I can't imagine what kind of damage it may do in the future to the window well. If only it wouldn't get so huge - I do like seeing a living plant right outside my basement window.
On May 18, 2012, GreenTassles from Kuna, ID wrote:
In these posts about the Chinese Sumac (Stink Tree) I noticed none from Idaho. So, I am here to rectify that. Zone 6b south western Idaho and I have this tree growing out from between blocks making up a small retaining wall. Female is across the street and HUGE. I have males. Today I begin my trials of eradicating this beast. I finally have an adversary worse then the dreaded bind weed. Thanks for all the input and while I appreciate this tree's usefulness in appropriate areas, it's just got to go. Am starting with a snip and painting with concentrated round up as I can't get to the roots without taking down the retaining wall.
On Dec 10, 2011, pic16f73 from Avondale, CO wrote:
This tree grows wild all over Pueblo. It establishes groves along highways, and provides shade in places where no other tree could survive. It is a great shade tree for the high desert since it is extremely dense in the summer, but drops all of it's foliage in late October and lets the much needed sunshine through.
On Jul 22, 2011, polianalyst from Chilili, NM wrote:
There may be a way to control this plant, but before I mention that, consider 3 problems. First, cut the darned thing down (leave about 4' of "trunk" but no foliage--see below) before it makes seeds. 2nd, be prepared to pull seedlings growing from old seeds already in the ground. 3rd, it will spread by lateral budding from the roots.
Now for control. This "tree" seems to have very shallow roots, that is, no tap roots. The entire root system (all of the trees may be connected to one another) may be limited to a depth of less than 2'. You can dig down about a foot to the main roots, loosen them, and pull the "trees" out of the ground. Cutting the "trees' off at about 4' and removing all foliage a while before doing this weakens the roots and gives some leverage with which to wiggle the root system out.
Control otherwise requires constant removal of even the tiniest amount of foliage, which starves the root systems and prevents spreading.
On Jul 10, 2011, Jakobsmamma from West Fork, AR wrote:
When my husband and I first bought our home I thought "oh wow what beautiful trees we have growing in our new yard". WRONG! There was a small bundle of about 5 of these trees decorating the front yard. I thought they were pretty, but my husband thought they might be sumac. Well I swayed him from taking them down which we really haven't had the time anyway, and now they're everywhere! I'm pulling up these tiny trees constantly! I wouldn't mind if there weren't like 500 seedlings popping up weekly. I would like to have a yard for my son to play in! Unfortunately we haven't been getting much rain and if we mow our lawn again it's probably going to die because it does not need to be mowed. However that is my quickest solution for ridding the seedlings popping up everywere. I don't have time to be pulling these things up all day since we have a 2 acre yard! I would like to find a solution that does not involve harsh chemicals because we have a 7 month old who loves to play outside. If I could sadly find a way to kill these beautiful monsters, in a way that will not jeopardize my sons well being, I would have done so already. After that task is complete, I will be on the hunt for something that is similarly beautiful that will flourish in my area but not over take my yard.
On Mar 3, 2011, robyn12 from perth Australia wrote:
GET RID OF IT!!!
I have been battling with a tree of heaven that grows between my shed and fence and very hard to get to. Also difficult given my neighbour likes the tree and had not helped in it's eradication. My tree is now affecting 8 adjoining houses and the council won't help with it's erradication. I am now down to 1 major tree... I might try diesel fuel...
It has killed every tree (other than citrus) that I have tried to plant.
If you like this tree you are not really a gardener. As it is the easiest tree to grow and doesn't need water or sunlight..
On Feb 26, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:
As bad as the Reviews are on this Tree. Its is a Nice looking Tree at least. Sure, Its grows like a weed(it is a weed but, that is besides the point) Since I thought it was a sumac and at one point. I thought it was a Poison sumac. One day I looked at it and was thinking about it. I touch the leaves and it smelled Musty that confused me also. Then I walked to to Random trees that looked liked it and did the same thing and it didn't Smell Musty. So, just today I saw the Photo of as a Invasion Tree. I was thinking well that is why at work they are trying to kill the dang tree. The tree is growing next to the Pool.
June 2, 2011:
I just pulled another one of these trees again. At my job place if I find in my tart it be really for war.
I delcafe war on this tree and planing smooth sumac in its place.
June 12, 2011
Pulled out same tree again... its grows back in two weeks. But, I would love to see it in its navie range thongh. It look sweet here but the navite sumacs will win. Evil laugh.
I pull out more of these Sumacs again this time inside the Pool deck and the ones over by the Deep end of the Pool and I gone a bit crazy. I had a Coworker dig it out some as I Rip it from the Ground it was fun to do. I love this Tree... You can play god with it. I also have a new name also for it Black sumac, siemier behaver as the Black walnut tree if you think about it. That does the same thing puts out thing in the Growed that other trees can't grow around it also. just a thought about a new name for it. We also mind as well call it a naive plant now and call it the Black Sumac.
Sept. 30, 2011
Really July 31,20111
I won the Jihad against this Tree. All you to do is Dig a 2 feet into the Ground. And Rip that Mother out of the Ground. I have not seen it since. HAHA So, we have won (Evil Laugh)
On Sep 21, 2010, jedthorp from Columbus, OH wrote:
my wife and I bought a new house one year ago, and we had two of these "trees" growing outside of our backyard fence. After finding out in January what they were, we had them professionally removed in February, including having the stumps grinded out. Frankly, we haven't had nearly the problems (yet) that most of you mention. The first month or two of spring I had to go around the yard every day or two and remove the tiny sprouts, which I assume were from last fall's seeds, not existing roots. This summer, I've found, maybe, a dozen or so suckers popping up in our yard, treated them with RoundUp, and then pulled a day later. I haven't noticed any suckers popping up around the former site of the tree.
On Aug 19, 2010, animalbase from Carlsbad, NM wrote:
I have been fighting this tree/weed for over a decade. when first sprouting it looks like a pecan tree but beware. It does not need even need sun. I have one growing in between my porch post and molding. no soil there, no water no sun. You may stunt them but don't be fooled they will return. I lived in the same home for 10 years. Neighbors had a back yard full of these. The seeds always found there way into my lawn. I managed to keep them under control with regular weed prevention and catching them early. Now I am in a new home with two large ones that have grown into and destroyed the fence between properties. Literaly hundreds more that must be managed at minimum weekly. I was performing my regular trimmings last Sunday and cutting the limbs from the fence from the tree in my neighbors yard. I always itch when they touch my skin and the smell is noxious. I noticed red itchy bumps starting but kept cutting. I started feeling a tightness in my chest and difficulty breathing. I was determined to keep going to they didn't destroy the fence. I finally finished the trimming and put them in the trash cans. I got them to the gate and began to feel lighted headed. I left them there and ran inside. I washed my skin and took allergy medication. By this time my throat was swelling shut. I saw my allergy specialist today who said my allergy was related to fungus. I live in the Chihuahuan desert. Fungus? does any one know if this weed has fungal properites? I do not recommend this tree. You may like it but it will take over the entire neighborhood. Not very nice for your neighbors who don't want to deal with them. May be pretty and provide a forrest like atmosphere but will destroy your yard and house.
It's a pity that this tree has such bad habits, because it is a good shade tree and attractive looking. I have one in my back yard, dropping seeds all over which start little trees everywhere. These have to be pulled up, or will become large quickly. My tree started from a random seed and I allowed it to grow. That was a mistake. I guess it is a tree that has an obsession to become a forest!
On Jul 18, 2010, aquilusdomini from Jackson, MI wrote:
All this plant really has going for it is its ability to grow and reproduce rapidly. It is at times somewhat attractive but i've had nothing but bad luck with it. One managed to find a way to grow in the space between our basement window and the edging around the window. It became quite big quite quick, in about 2 months it had a pretty good sized diameter. I took a saw to it to get rid of it but it continued to come back every year until i became very diligent and started regularly deleafing it. Now it's just an ugly stump but there's more of them trying to overtake the back yard. And oh the horror of their smell when you take off their leaves, ahhh. Apparently some people like the smell, but my family and i really really dislike it. I do not recommend this plant and hope everyone who has it and dislikes it can get rid of it easily.
On Jul 8, 2010, DawnAtkin from Salt Lake City, UT wrote:
Moved into a house with a large Chinese Sumac that obviously had just grown as a weed. Spent years trying to kill it. After we cut it down, it just kept growing back in bush form. Tried all the usual methods to kill it. On a whim, I dumped half a bag of extra lawn fertilizer on the stump. Killed it within a week. Of course, I could not have done this if it was anywhere near desirable plants.
On Jun 16, 2010, Ithiel from Detroit, MI (Zone 6b) wrote:
This tree is one of the most invasive weeds I have ever experienced. It literally once grew from a crack in the foundation of my house. One of them was growing into a chain link fence at the back of my home when I moved in, and I cut it down every year for 15 years and it even survived being burned with gasoline. It wasn't until this year it finally died, I have no idea why. I absolutely hate these with a passion, and they grow everywhere here.
On May 1, 2010, MiniatureFarms from Orem, UT wrote:
Honestly, I love these trees. I love cutting down the little shoots that pop up all the time. The reason they call this "The Tree of Heaven" is because you get to play god with it. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction then taking my lawn mower and mowing down the miniature forest. My favorite thing to do is look up through the canopy when the wind is blowing, because it makes me feel like I'm in the jungle. The green leaf pattern backed with a blue sky is amazing. Utah is not a tropical climate and so this tree is as close as it gets for us elevation highlanders. Another thing I love about them is how after they lose their leaves, and a strong wind blows, all of their season growth branches come down. It's fun ranking them up and throwing them in the garbage. If you want a great privacy fence, plant these trees and you'll have a great grove in a couple years. I give the Ailanthus altissima five stars and two thumbs up! If you want to control them, don't cut them down and when the females put out their seeds, just harvest them. I collected a five-gallon bucket last year of those seeds, and am about to plant 72 of them for the new house I'm moving to this month. If you don't want them proliferating, just harvest the seeds with a ladder or hydraulic lift, and then burn the seeds. If you have neighbors you like, I highly recommend this practice.
I know they're considered an invasive species. But at my altitude, they just don't survive that long. With a couple of mild winters, they will grow 3 ft in a season. If there is a harsh winter, they will start to die. There is an empty lot next to me full of dead ones. Never made it to 10 ft. All in all, I think they are pretty. I have some on my back patio and they add a tropical touch. They are only 10 ft tall and I don't expect them to make it thru this winter. Like for most of us, there are always invasives where we live. I know mine will die from weather so I let them "be" there and I enjoy them in their short life-span in the mountains. A year ago, grasshoppers feasted on them! We had a different moisture pattern this year so I didn't have any grasshoppers.
On Jun 24, 2009, DisHammerhand from Fontana, CA wrote:
This tree is all over in my hometown. A lot of people have just let it grow in their yards. It is sort of attractive. I thought it was sumac for a while. Glad I found out about it before I invited it to grow in my yard.
On Mar 21, 2009, Invasive from Jamestown, KY wrote:
I LOVE this tree, very preety and smells really good, sort of reminds me of peanut butter!!! It can take whatever you want to dish out. Need a shade tree? There Is NO better option then this. Want A tree that spreads rapidly and makes alot more of itself? Then this tree Is a great tree to have. Take the seedlings and give to friends family and everyone who wants a great shade and beautiful tree. At night when there Is a full moon, when the moon passes and you see It through the love's It sort of has a magic buzz in the air sense to It. If you want a tree with every positive virtue you can think of. Well you found It. It Is the greatest tree ever. You can't go wrong with It.
On Mar 11, 2009, purplesun from Krapets Bulgaria (Zone 8a) wrote:
I don't think there are words bad enough to describe this thing. This is the most invasive weed here in Bulgaria, and nothing matches it in terms of obnoxiousness. Perhaps Japanese knotweed would be a suitable rival for the first prize. It grows everywhere where it shouldn't and is extremely hard to exterminate. Until last summer, I had 10 individuals (!) of this species in my garden, who fortunately could not cope with the drought and didn't grow as vigorously as they do elsewhere. After many years of angry controversies with my father over this piece of horrendous junk, I cut them down with an axe, my father's lamentations notwithstanding (he thought they were BEAUTIFUL!!!). He leveled them by cutting the stumps to the ground with a chain-saw, yet I am sure there will be a lot of work to be done with the help of total pesticides. In addition to the now deceased grove of trees of heaven, the neighbour's yard harbours a large and sexually productive individual that keeps dropping seeds that germinate right beside precious plants like palms. Pulling the thing is of no use, because they regrow, and cutting and digging does not come into consideration. This is a gardener's nightmare.
Oct. 2009 Update - after cutting to the ground, this pariah of the tree world has been sending suckers all over a large perimeter on our plot, obviously from its roots.
On Mar 1, 2009, inkblot from Buffalo, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:
I once had one of these stupid trees growing through my house´s foundation. No soil, just concrete. What´s worse is that it keeps killing the tomatoes and lettuce that I plant near it.
This tree is smelly, invasive, poisonous to other plants and almost impossible to destroy. The only positive attribute it has (its beauty during the winter) is not enough to overcome its negative aspects. If you see it in your garden, kill it. With fire.
On Sep 21, 2008, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:
I thank cactusman fails to grasp that this tree is a part of environmental degradation not a solution to it. The positive attributes he mentioned are true of most trees so it doesn't do much to warm my heart to his plant. Don't misunderstand, I think it is impressive, attractive, and just fine in its native habitat. But it takes over once diverse areas of forest and diminishes diversity by outcompeting many species and having no food value for most native animals. It is not a "control issue" any more than reducing polutants which we have wrecklessly unleashed into the environment.
On Aug 21, 2008, cactusman102 from Lawrence, KS wrote:
Relax a bit......let the plant take over.....so what! Look what our own invasive species has done to this earth! Besides, plants like this are good for absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), sequestering harmful chemicals and adding oxygen to the air. I figure we should promote dense stands of plants like this to offset all the tropical forests we cut down and burn.
Maybe instead of crying about how this plant ruined your life and saying how horrible it is, lets try to see the good too.... explore its use as paper, bio-fuel, erosion control, or neighbor screening and repellant.
Think about this.....If you are concerned about a plant taking over, you are upset because of a control issue!You are upset that you can't control a species just as determined to survive on this earth as you are.
On Jul 31, 2008, ravenskies from London, Ontario Canada wrote:
This tree is awful. I bought my house 2 years ago, and my neighbour had one of these things. He cut it own (handsawed it down is more accurate), but he did not dig up the taproot. I have seriously been pulling up the suckers non-stop all spring and summer ever since. I mow my lawn once a week, and it never fails that there are a dozen shoots 12" tall by the time I mow my grass gain.
This thing is evil. I can't kill it without digging up my neighbour's yard, which I'd gladly do if he'd let me. Thats right. I would personally go and dig up that stupid root if it took all afternoon, and I'd even buy HIM dinner aterward.
On Jul 23, 2008, joylily514 from Staunton, VA wrote:
I truly hate this tree. I moved to Virginia from Texas and didn't think I could hate a tree more than the Hackberries in TX, but I do. It is relentless. I am constantly pulling sprouts in my yard. I'm afraid it got it's start here in VA back in the late 1700's and it has spread like wildfire all over this country, taking over habitats and replacing native trees. Like Kudzu and Japanese honeysuckle, there is going to have to be a concerted effort by many to remove this tree, if we ever can. Why anyone would actually sell or buy this tree is beyond me.
On Jun 11, 2008, JPride1127 from Detroit, MI wrote:
The neighbors have several of these very small trees growing in their backyard and they got very tall in one season and scratched my (vehicle) , so last year I cut them all down and soaked the groudnd with Ortho Ground Clear (kills everything living) only about 5 branches came back out of the 30 or so I cut down I plan to follow up again this fall with another round of cutting back and poisoning. I think these are male because they set no seed what so ever.
On Mar 25, 2008, one3k from Eutaw, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:
The Ailanthus in my in New York City backyard and in the other backyards on my block are dying. That is wonderful. However, they are extremely dangerous, as they periodically drop huge limbs and eventually will fall. One can only hope no one gets hurt by these potential killers.
It would be impossible to say enough negative things about this filthy nasty thing.
Beware! This tree can make having a garden extremely unpleasant.
On Mar 21, 2008, oscarkat01 from Rochester, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:
I inherited this plant on one sloped part of our property. I mistakenly thought it was sumac at first until I could smell it (I thought we had a skunk in the slope) along with the little bump on the leaf. I have been removing them with a cut down, stump remove, and poison approach with a fair amount of success. They also seem to inhibit growth of other plants when they are growing (except for swallow wort).
On Feb 3, 2008, coo13549 from Batavia, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
I live in the woods in Southern Ohio and this tree is everywhere. At first, we thought it was pretty, but now see sprouts everywhere. If you cut them down without killing them, they grow 5-8 feet per year. Ugh.
The only good news is that it doesn't seem to be growing in the the meadow below.
On Dec 2, 2007, sangerharris from Memphis, TN wrote:
A tree of heaven is the lone tree on my condo building's very impervious site (see the photos of the tree in Memphis), so it might be hard to convince the condo board to vote for its removal - but I'm going to print the comments on this page and hopefully get the votes! Our tree of heaven is relatively mature, though, and in the winter looks absolutely sinister with its twisted branches!
On Oct 15, 2007, cbelles from Shelbyville, IN wrote:
The ONLY reason I give this tree a neutral rating, instead of negative, is because of the beauty of this tree. The tree trunk is not smooth like most trees. It looks like there are small trees wrapping around a big tree beneath the bark, but there's not, that's just the twisty shape of the way the wood grows. Grows fast, tall, big and full.
Otherwise, I don't like this tree at all. For the longest time, I could recognize the scent of this tree, without knowing what it was. My friends and I would gather firewood from the woods when camping. Sometimes I could smell something in the fire burning that just stunk. I always thought it was weeds, but now that one of the trees are in my yard, I know.
There's nothing like it, and I can honestly say that this is the WORST scented tree/plant I've ever smelled. Rotten tomatoes smell better to me than this tree does. The smell doesn't make me fully ill, but it will churn my stomach after a few minutes. The other day I picked up a branch that fell off the tree and had to go wash up a few times because of the lingering smell.
Invasive is an understatement for this tree. Starts out looking like a small weed with a lot of leaves and quickly grows. Survives drought well.
On Oct 11, 2007, NYCbackyarder from New York, NY wrote:
Extremely negative, that is.
I have two 70ft tall Trees of Heaven in my backyard in Manhattan. They are the bane of my existence because they never stop dropping stuff. There are about 7 phases of stuff that fall from these demon weeds. Not to mention what drops from the pigeons who hang out in them. But that's a whole nother story.
I just found out that Ailanthus trees emit toxins which prevent other plants from growing. Wish I knew that about 5 years ago. What I couldn't find out is where the toxins emit from. Roots, leaves or the various other things that drop from them. I suspect it is in the droppings because even potted plants in my yard battle to survive.
One funny story to illustrate how aggressive this demon weed is: I was renovating my apartment which is about 5ft below grade level. I removed the old floor right down to the cement foundation. I laid down some plastic as a vapor barrier then built a wood frame and covered that with plywood. I took up one of the plywood boards once and saw what looked like a yellow extension cord under the plastic. I cut through the plastic and realized it was a root from the tree. It had grown 30 feet underground and under a slate patio, found its way through the concrete floor and spread out under the plastic for about 10 feet inside my apartment. All in less that 6 months.
I strongly recommend that you do not plant these and yank them as soon as you see them growing. They are taking over along the highways in NY and NJ. It seems like there ought to be a federal level plan for dealing with them.
These trees/bushes have popped up all over So. California and several have taken over my hillside full of citrus. Removing them totally is nearly impossible and costs a fortune. It has come to the point where once cut down, I have to drill holes in the trunks and pour on full strength brush killer. They are constantly popping up all over the hillside, into the canyons, and spreading rapidly. As soon as you think they are destroyed, another few emerge. These trees are worse than Pampas grass which has now been banned in Calif. as invasive.
I hate this tree!!! The previous owner of my house allowed a number of weeds to flourish and this one is proving to be the most difficult to eradicate. I cut down three of them on my property this spring and every few weeks I have to remove several dozen new shoots many feet from the removed stumps. I can’t put in perennials until I’m sure this evil weed won’t grow up through them. Many of my neighbors actually grow this monster because it will thrive in the dry alkaline clay soil of this hot arid climate.
On Jul 29, 2007, calumetman from Chicago, IL wrote:
My first real observation of these trees was on an abandoned industrial site in Central Ohio (later finding it to be among the favorite places of these unruly arbors to compete). I tried to find out what they were then, thinking them resembled some type of Sumac. But I couldn't place those chartreuse samara clusters. I later confirmed they species to be an Ailanthus, but now that I know what it's popular name is I dislike it even more. Choosing to be wary of anything of Chinese or Eurasian origin on the outset is my first response, and Ailanthus altissima, as with most other plants from that region, has stayed true to form by over adapting to our Western climbs and proliferated into a nuisance at the risk of loosing native fauna. I can't believe they sell it in some places, or that anyone in this day and age would care to cultivate it on purpose. It threatens our native habitats, forests, fine marshes, fens and meadows and that in and of itself is reason enough for systematic eradication from our landscapes. It's about time we reverse the trend of our less informed colonial botanists and horticulturalists. The Selling or growing of anything exotic with the potential to get out of control should be banned.
On Jul 28, 2007, ZeTron57 from Atascadero, CA wrote:
At a glance this tree has a wonderful foliage, And an older tree makes for a great tree fort (my parents have one in their back yard that is about 7-8 feet in girth). but that is where the positive comments stop.
If you have read this far you will have come to the overwhelming conclusion that this tree is a spawn of Satan himself. It grows where it wants and is extremely hard to kill. You MUST remove the root or you will just help it grow stonger and become a nasty unforgiving hydra. We call this the Heavans' Gate tree (draw your own conclusions why).
My family has had to remove these trees for years but the best personal story is a tree that was growing INSIDE our shed behind a pile of boxes, from a crack (it created) in the base board and the wall. There is NO light and the tree was struggling but still growing!!! (very white in color and about 1.5 feet tall)
It details a description of an Ailanthus tree that SURVIVED the HIROSHIMA ATOMIC BOMB!!!!! at only 1 - 5 meters from the epicenter. Wow, I was amazed by this. lol, I don't know if i should have more respect for the tree now... I don't only because it is such an invasive tree.
After reading all of the negatives on this tree I realized that the two fully grown sumacs in my yard had to come down. The little shoots were already up against my house and part of my patio is cracked right where a root goes. Good shade vs. a bad foundation for my home. I rented a chainsaw and spent the day taking them out.
This site is very informative and I look forward to learning more.
It grows all over the place, comes up in my backyard, at least 50 to 60 feet away from the main trunk, under my house, yes with yellow leaves.
I have used a certain brand of sucker stopper with some success. One must still remove the roots, which by the way grow in all directions beneath the ground, not a joke. They are a mess and the wandering sprots must be cleaned up every spring around May and June or more sprots as usual. I personally would not recommmend this tree as a shade tree.
I just bought an older home last February. It was a rental for many years and the yard was bare except for a large silver maple, a London plane tree, some oleanders, and some leaf-less saplings. You guessed it. Those saplings are Tree of Heaven. And now they are sprouting up all over the yard. I have an aerial photo taken before the house was rehabed. It shows a dense canopy along one side of the house. Most of this was grubbed out and there are stubs all over. There is even an older one (3" in dia.) growing around a water pipe. I have a long battle ahead of me. Concentrated Roundup on the foliage was only partly effective. Now I'm going to try straight Brush-B-Gon on the stumps. I only hope to stay ahead of this monster. There are mature trees on the properties behind and across the street from mine.
On Jun 18, 2007, dicentra63 from West Valley City, UT (Zone 6b) wrote:
I also hate this tree with my whole soul. My house's previous owners let too many of them grow, and even after they chopped down the adults, the suckers have lived happily on. I've got two female specimens in my yard, and the neighbor has another female and they recently chopped down the male.
The area below the two adult females is so sterile that nothing grows there except their suckers. Not even weeds grow there.
If it ever becomes necessary to terraform the moon, I've got their tree right here.
If it weren't for the nice shade that the adults provide to the west side of my house, and the inaccessibility of the trunks, I'd have dug them out years ago. Not that they'd be gone; they'd just sucker up again from the roots of the adults.
Don't even THINK of planting, encouraging, or even benignly permitting this tree to grow in your landscape! The germination rate for the seeds, which blow into my garden, appears to be about 100%! Despite all the comments about the tropical-looking appearance, heat tolerance, etc., this is a TRASH tree, and its odor is one of the most objectionable that I can think of.
On May 30, 2007, Dianamary from Vannes France wrote:
I am a little confused by the info on this tree, it says that the flowers are sterile and don't seed, yet everyone complains of seedlings, am I missing something? Also I have just grown 40 little terrors which I thought would nicely fill my 4 acre garden in Northern France, now I'm not so sure, I had no idea they were such a pest.
On May 17, 2007, RedClay007 from Richmond, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:
If you live in a very urban area then no other tree will perform as well. It has an attractive tropical look and is very healthy. Like every plant, it has its place and use. If you want a tree to grow in a 2' x 2' space surrounded by sidewalk and street without supplemental water, then there is no better choice. I'd rather have a healthy Tree of Heaven than a sick Japanese maple!
On May 17, 2007, Fshrguy7 from San Diego, CA wrote:
This plant is like a fungus here in Southern California. I agree with all of the other postings on here. Out here they like to spawn near ditches and along fencing. of all types. They are a gigantor weed. Very troublesome and will choke out any other vegetation within it's path. I yank them out of the ground in my backyard and they start to reproduce the next following week again. This tree is definetley a cancer that won't stop growing. I hate these ugly "weeds" not tree's :)
On Apr 30, 2007, tomatofreak from Phoenix, AZ wrote:
I completely agree with all the 'haters' of this plant. It is a horrid nuisance. It pops up everywhere from runners the roots put out, coming up dozens of feet away from any parent tree. If left unchecked, it will create its very own forest of stink. Unfortunately, it loves the irrigation ditch behind my house and seems impossible to eradicate. I just try to keep it out of the yard. Be careful of pulling the sprouts up; the milky sap can cause a nasty reaction. I think cutting it down below ground level and poisoning the 'stump' is the only way to eradicate this horrible pest.
On Apr 24, 2007, Bugbear from Brookfield, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:
I moved to this home two years ago in the winter, so I had to sit back and see what would pop up. I always associated this as a weed that harbored Earwigs when I was a kid. We had to always go and cut them down from along side the garage and I hate, hate Earwigs. Just on that alone, they had to go.
About a month ago I had hired a landscaper to come out and cut down five 20' trees, and grind down the stumps. I cut smaller one down myself last spring, it did not come back as I had thought it would.
I did find out over the past couple years, as there are little ones that pop up here and there, I spray them with round up, foam up the leaves really good :) That usually takes em out.
You will also find that it is banned in several states according to the USDA.
They grow all over the place here. A lot of people hate these threes and complain about them in a militant fashion here. A volunteer started growing from seeds from a neighbors tree. All that being said I like this tree.
On Mar 20, 2007, grundlecat from Prescott Valley, AZ (Zone 7b) wrote:
A friend of mine calls this the "Cancer Tree" because it spreads like cancer and is incurable. In Arizona this tree will spread like wildfire, taking over whole swaths of land and growing over, under, or through anything in its path. I've spent many backbreaking hours trying to dig out its roots (it spreads like crabgrass or bindweed with root propagation). If you see it, I'd recommend speedy action before it gets a strong foothold. I've had some success with minimally diluted Fertilome tree and stump killer, but unfortunately that only kills the tree itself and not the roots that propagate it.
These tree's are just nasty weeds that grow all over Southern California near storm drain area's in the city and in very dry hardy dirt. They spread like wild fire all over here. They are very etremely ugly tree's. I have seen them up to 50 ft tall here in San Diego and in Riverside,CA. Once these tree's sprout in any soil you cannot get rid of them. They keep growning and growing back no matter what you do. I have all seen these ugly tree's in central Tennessee on the I-40 highway growing in some enbankments.
On Nov 3, 2006, KashtanGeorge from Sochi Russia wrote:
I have finally found info about that 'mysterious' tree! Some 8 years ago I bought an estate in Sochi, Ru, with a 90 ak peace of land bordering with the National Park. I totaly agree that the tree is beautiful, but it's so noxious, invasive, or whatever else! Now I realise how insistent plants can be in subtropical climate. At first I tried to get rid of all of them. But as being living in St. Petersburg and coming to my favourite retreate from time to time I consider it to be something like a new kind of sport- 'fighting with Ailanthus'. I already surrendered to several bigger trees of those, and even getting in romance with them. But it's those springs that especially tricky. Nevertheless, the trees give the lanscape the tropical view, add to the air the peculiar scent and make local cows' milk spicy.
But, seems, the tree is not indigenous to the region. I havent seen them in the forest.
On Nov 1, 2006, AlexK from La Mirada, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:
This tree is a huge pain in the behind. The roots and seeds go everywhere, sprouting the whole time. It doesn't just grow, it /infests/ a yard. It's a constant struggle to keep it out of everything else -- the wretched thing is harder to get rid of than Acanthus. I just had to have an arboretist come out and remove three that were pushing over a wall and interfering with power and phone lines. They'd already killed two other trees. The arboretist hit the stumps with Brush-b-Gone, and took out all the current sprouts. Any more that pop up will get the same treatment. I'll put it on the roots, stems, underside of the leaves, everything. I want this thing /gone/.
On Oct 2, 2006, gooley from Hawthorne, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:
Ailanthus would show up in the weirdest places in my hometown of Decatur, Illinois, arising apparently from nowhere but soon creating networks of roots and shoots. The older parts of the east side of town had (still have, no doubt, thirty years and more after my childhood experiences) huge specimens, eighty feet or taller, and any alleyway in downtown or an industrial district with a bit of sunlight would magically spawn at least one. No neighborhood seemed immune: the older, poorer neighborhoods with the giant trees had more, but any yard -- even the middle of a ten-acre tree nursery in the north of town -- could have some show up as if by spontaneous generation. Grubbing out the roots was generally indicated when they did.
The most impressive infestation I have seen was in Boulder, Colorado when I lived there in the early Nineties. In one old hilly neighborhood where I'd sometimes go walking, there were a few large trees, apparently cherished, in the middle of well-tended lawns, and down the block whole hillsides taken over by roots and suckers.
(Silkworms: apparently there is a moth with a larva called the ailanthus silkworm, but it is not the usual silkworm of commerce, which eats mulberry [or in a pinch the related cudrania's] leaves. I don't know whether this insect's cocoons are harvested for silk; various moths have been used as sources of silk in the past and even nowadays, so I guess it's possible. Chinese miners introduced the ailanthus to California's gold country, but whether they were trying to start a silk industry I have no idea.)
Fascinating to observe, but don't plant them. I've seen none in this part of Florida.
On Sep 28, 2006, HazelEyes from Lynnwood, WA wrote:
I have a large Tree of Heaven in the corner of my yard. I estimate it to be about 70 feet tall. It's everyone's favorite shade tree. It is an agressive species as you have to watch for new shoots growing up, and it does have an odiferous pollen, but it's short-lived. We have several teen agers and they all like sitting out under the tree during the warm spring and summer days. In my case there is nothing to harm from an agressive root system. We often have Stellar Jays that perch in the branches and it's a beautiful tree. I think the nay-sayers who don't like this tree just have it in the wrong place.
I have many trees growing in my yard but this one's leaves are late to come in during spring and the last thing to shed leaves in the fall.
On Aug 5, 2006, TuxedoWarwick from Greenwood Lake, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:
This giant weed is like the cockroach of the tree world, and would probably laugh off a nuclear 'dirty bomb' attack without so much as a damaged twig. I occasionally work in the Bronx, where this tree thrives, often growing smack up against the crumbling foundations of neglected buildings. I've even seen this tree growing out of clogged gutters and out of cracks on flat tar roofs with mucky puddles of leaves and standing water. Even if you were to overlook the broken glass, burned out cars, crack vials, graffiti, and other clues, this is one of the trademark trees (along with sumac) that lets you know you're leaving Westchester and entering the Bronx. All of the other plant life has enough class to clear out. You see three homeless guys underneath the overpass, roasting some dead rodent over a burn barrel, and what's growing out of a crack in the concrete next to them? Tree of (Bronx and Brooklyn), of course.
On Jul 31, 2006, treguboff from Prescott, AZ wrote:
Death to this Hydra that travels through the soil as a Hollywood Tremor. This weed tears up your foundations, destroys asphalt driveways and invades septic systems. Negative is not a good description of how i feel.
So many comments, so much hatred, so much ignorance...
I live in an urban area. I live in Milwaukee, WI. I moved there from Chicago, IL. The city proper.
Look people, here's the reality of life in major urban centers: there's way too much pollution, way too much dog urine, way too much road salt, for any other tree to grow in 80 per cent of the city.
In the 50's and 60's, urban areas were filled with large shade trees, such as those famous lamented elms. They all died. Now, cities only enjoy 16 per cent of the trees they once had, thanks to pollution and salt.
No other tree that's regularly planted, not even those honey locusts from arid Texas, can take that environment.
You complain that the tree "smells". How 'bout car exhaust, doesn't THAT smell? How 'bout chemical effusions, doesn't THAT smell? Yet, no one seems to be keen on eliminating cars and chemical factories. Yet this brave little tree, that can grow ANYWHERE and actually help with reducing pollution (yes, it's true, the tree metabolizes and neutralizes the effects of sulphurous pollutants in its tissues, we're still trying to figure out how).
Another thing, nothing eats them. How many times have I seen and heard about yet another bug from yet another continent decimating yet another variety of tree? This one's impervious.
It grows fast, it spreads well, it makes shade. What more do you want from an urban tree?
Yes, I would not plant this one in a forest, but most people I know don't live in forests. Nor do they live in a suburb--again, another place I wouldn't plant this. But they DO live in cities, and I think EVERYONE who lives in the inner city should be GIVEN one of these to plant.
Heat islands made by cities are terrible environmental problems, this would solve them. It'll help with air pollution too.
As for what good is this tree: its extracts have many medicinal qualities, its leaves make silkworms produce stronger silk, its wood (when treated properly) is hard and useful.
I've heard folks say it's invasive, but hey, know what the MOST invasive species on the planet is...?
On Jun 16, 2006, terryr from Bureau County, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:
We moved about 1.5 years ago into his old home. I have a tree in the back side yard, that for the life of me, I could not ID. I finally posted a pic. Came back as Ailanthus. Noooo!!!!! I denied it for a few months, but I can't deny it anymore. So far I know that we and another neighbor have females. Across the street was the male, which the city removed last year. I'm working with the city now to have both of these trees removed. Sure, it's not a bad looking tree. And yea, it gives pretty good shade. There's a male somewhere that I haven't found yet, because the Tree from Heaven is out there now making seed. Is this tree worth it? To knowingly send hundreds of thousands of seed into the wind to displace native plants far outside of my own yard, is just wrong. The bad of this tree far exceeds the good. It's going bye bye one way or another.
On Jun 14, 2006, gloriabythelake from Buffalo, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:
This tree is a scourge. My neighbor is infested and it pops up in my garden. I am dumbfounded as to why people like this beast. Driving around, I see it growing right up against houses & through concrete. Another neighbor actually is training this horror as a standard. DO NOT PLANT THIS TREE. You will regret it for the rest of your natural life. It's right up there with the Siberian Elm.
On Jun 14, 2006, Colquhoun from Champaign, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:
This tree should be hunted down and killed without remorse. It has not one single saving grace, and even the mention of it turns my sweet wife into a raging lunatic.. Highly Invasive, there are many natives that are both lovely and better suited to the yards of America
I hate to be in the minority, but I think it looks really neat. I got a boat load of them growing near where I burn old limbs and stuff. I kept burning them down a few times a year, and they always grew back. I finally noticed a mature tree, about 20 feet tall over on the border of my land, it was covered with honey suckle. I removed a lot of the honey suckle and found it was really a neato looking tree.
I have them growing everywhere, but they are smallish, and weeklike, not full grown trees. I had planned on letting them grow out, as I think they look awesome.
After reading the comments in here, I'm starting to doubt myself. But I really have no problem with it, as it looks good, and the places I don't want it to grow, I will just keep mowed.
So, I'm going to go against the tide and vote it a positve tree/shrub/weed, whatever the thing actually is.
Growing conditions are so difficult in the high desert of western Colorado that I actively search out "invasive" plants because they will withstand hot wind, extremely cold & dry winters, clay soil, and little water. The widely denigrated Tree of Heaven can thrive here with very little help from me and very little extra watering beyond our 7 to 10 inches of annual rainfall. Ditto such other "pests" as Siberian Elm & Trumpet Vine (Campsis). Just another point of view...from the arid west.
Enchanted by the "volunteer" that sprang up under the canopy of my large mulberry, I mistakenly allowed it to remain for a year. It shot up thru branches heading, apparently, for heaven. This is a semi-arid area, so any plant that vigorous is a miracle or a horror. This one soon proved the latter.
I sawed the trunk off a foot above ground and the stub sprouted almost immediately. I took a black plastic plant-nursery pot and covered the holes with duct tape, put it over the stump, placed a large rock on top and left it for at least a year. The stump rotted away in
time, and luckily I was able to pull the few seedlings dropped. Suckers were not a problem. Whew!
On Apr 28, 2006, ldy_gardenermd from Highland, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:
Horrible, awful and a pain to get rid of! This tree was supposed to be one of those trees that was good for city growing! Well, I live in the country and I cut down a dozen or more of these blasted stinky things ever year at least five times a year. I have yet to find anything that will kill it and everytime I cut it back to the ground a new one sprouts off the side! UGH! Do not plant this tree, please!!!
On Apr 19, 2006, Hikaro_Takayama from Fayetteville, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:
Although this tree is considered a Noxious Weed in PA, from my own observations, I can say this: I have only seen it growing in recently cleared areas or fields that haven't been cut in a while, and at the edges of woods. I have also seen it growing around abandoned limestone quarries, where almost nothing else will grow.
That said, I have also noticed this: around the rock quarries, as the fallen leaves and branches of this tree add some kind of soil to the bare rock, native Eastern Red Cedars have been moving in and are pushing out the Ailanthus trees, and in fields that have been left to go to forest, native hardwoods eventually move in and shade out the Ailanthus trees. These trees (from what I've seen) are completely intolerant of shade, on top of which, they also are among the LAST trees to get their leaves in the spring (Black walnuts are a close contender for that title, though), and among the FIRST to lose them during the fall, putting them at a further disadvantage in competing with native trees for sunlight.
Therefore, I'd class this tree as an aggressive pioneer species (in terms of forest succession), especially for unforgiving locations like abandoned rock quarries or strip-mines, that is eventually supplanted by trees that are further along the succession scale (i.e. Mullberries, Red Cedars and Boxelders move in next, followed by hardwoods such as Oaks and Maples). I'd only recommend to let it colonize places where other plants won't grow, such as abandoned strip mines or rock quarries in order for them to convert the mine-waste/bare rock into soil that other plants can use. Otherwise, don't touch it with a ten foot pole.
Oh, and one interesting fact: this tree is the primary food of the silkworm caterpillers in China, and is why they called it the tree of Heaven. The tree was introduced into the US in an attempt to start a silk industry here, but, due to America's high wage scale, the industry collapsed, and the trees and silkworms escaped into the wild. Fortunately, the silkworms ONLY eat Ailanthus, so they did not become another gypsy moth type fiasco.
On Apr 13, 2006, EarthMama from San Jose, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:
There are several of these trees in our neighborhood. Although they have a beautiful canopy, the females drop seeds EVERYWHERE, & the tap root goes clear to the center of the earth! The seed pods even find their way between cracks in pavement. If you must have this tree, be sure to plant only a male tree, unless you want to constantly be pulling up seedlings, and have all of your neighbors hate you!
On Feb 11, 2006, renwings from Sultan, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:
We always called this tree, Tree of Paradise or Paradise Tree. I have fond memeories of the one we had in our yard growing up in Utah. But my mother hated it and hated it even more when she cut it down and all the suckers came up. We loved to play with the soft fronds that resembled feathers to us and we'd make "wings" from them. The young saplings are hollow and we spent time gouging out the soft pith to make all kinds of things.
They are a little less rampant here in WA state and I've seen them grown with great effect as ornamentals. Some are very pretty in the fall and turn a blazing red.
On Feb 1, 2006, ppatnaude from Amherst, MA (Zone 5a) wrote:
This is a true JUNK tree, it is on the Invasive Plant List in MA and I would guess just about every other state throughout it's growing range. I would strongly discourage the purchase of it and would certinly destroy it if it were on my property!
These types of trees just came up in a recent discussion. I'd rate Ailanthus right up there with Albizia and here's what I wrote to somebody, "plant will probably be a problem child for you and if not for you... for natural areas as you suspected. These things can be pretty weedy and if you want to avoid playing the roll of the sorcerer's apprentice wildly whacking the offspring of albizia with a broom to beat them back when you could be out and about spending your time planting well behaved pretties, pick a plant that respects property lines a little bit better than Albizia... or Ailanthus"
On Oct 25, 2005, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:
I shudder if a gardening client wants it removed. It laughs at a hostile climate even without water, and attacking it makes it more weedy. If aboveground growth is killed continually, the roots will still be popping up five years later. I suggest a crusade with poison Ivy killer.
Mistakenly called 'Sumac' here. Called firewood in my house. Upon ripping out another seedling/runner, a neighbor (down the street, thank the Lord) calls it "Stinktree."
My neighbor planted 10 of these trees along the fence line last fall . On my side of the fence I have a 12 foot wide border; one area with a good stand of red twig dogwood, but mostly sunny perennials.This year I have pulled many suckers and thought I had none among the red twig dogwood. Alas, I went out today and saw one standing above the dogwood.
I am very upset about these trees as I know I will never be able to get rid of them. I gave the neighbors information as to how invasive these trees are, but to no avail. I do plan to cut the branches that are in our yard. The suckers are bad enough, I don't need the seeds.
I thought that if I put a barrier two feet down into the ground it might give me time to kill what suckers I have and to get a good stand of a shrub that is thick. I thought the shaded area would be less hospitable for these trees. That is, until today, when I saw the eight foot tree coming through my dogwoods.
This is truly a very invasive tree, and I am very upset that this will probably not only ruin large area in my yard, but it will be all over the neighborhood and also damage the heretofore good relationship we had with the neighbors.
On Jun 2, 2005, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:
Ailanthus is one of the worst invasive trees here. The dense stands it grows in choke out native vegetation. This Indo-Australian native is like a hydra - cut one down and ten more sprout from the roots. It releases its truly wretched odor when you cut one down. Young trees are defoliated by the Ailanthus webworm but always revive. Some must be nearly 100 feet which earns them the name tree of heaven since it towers into the sky. Certainly nothing else heavenly about it. I think Ailanthus is a more appropriate name. Not just a city weed tree. It is just as bad in the countryside. Only a fool would plant one of these.
On Sep 30, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:
The Chinese Tree-of-Heaven or Ailanthus is one of the most invasive plants in the U.S.! It forms virtually solid, standing thickets like bamboo, crowding out native plants, by propagation and huge seed production! The seedlings and young trees are about the most invasive plant I've ever seen!
It can grow anywhere: healthy native upland hardwood forests (both adult and young trees), along streams, rivers, and creeks, along roadsides, fences, in vacant, weedy lots (especially!), in open areas, in small corners of space around homes or buildings outside, EVEN IN CONCRETE CRACKS AND IN CRACKS IN BUILDING WALLS! Around old buildings, it can grow even on rooftops made of concrete and in the smallest spaces available! IT SEEMS LIKE IT DOSN'T EVEN NEED SOIL TO PROPAGATE AND GROW, IT CAN EVEN CRACK AND GROW THROUGH CONCRETE!
It even tolerates air pollution, helping it compete successfully in cities and towns. I've seen it especially invasive in the northeast U.S. when I visited southern Connecticut! It seemed like almost every time on the side of the road I saw this tree, whether it was in invasive stands or an adult tree alone by the woods or somewhere! This tree is now present in much of the Eastern and parts of the Central and East-central U.S. and was also introduced on the west coast (in the 1800s from its native China to the U.S. as a LANDSCAPE TREE!).
If you see this plant in a nursery somewhere, please don't buy it! It is WAY too invasive in the landscape unless you are on guard every day and torture it to keep it under control, even though it looks tropical! Also, if you have this tree, get rid of it by cutting it down (the entire tree including the roots - if you leave the roots in the soil it may grow back) as SOON AS POSSIBLE!
MORE FACTS - Very fast-growing; can survive freezes in northern states or states with snow in winter. Releases huge numbers of invasive seeds as well as propagates by root. Native plants are MUCH, MUCH better by far for the landscape as an alternative!
On Sep 17, 2004, Cajun2 from (Carole) Cleveland, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:
HATE THESE THINGS!!!
HATE 'EM! HATE 'EM! HATE 'EM! (or did I say?)
I echo every negative sentiment here and will definitely resort to CHEMICALS to TRY to get rid of it ! I've already taken to paying my seven year old a quarter for each berry she collects from the ground and gets put into the trash!
I cannot think of ONE redeeming factor for this wicked thing that is a sorry excuse for a tree!
HATE THEM!!!! (or did I say?)
On Aug 3, 2004, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:
An awful, awful plant that destroys native forests and can destroy your landscape, if left unchecked. One of the most invasive species on earth, only good in China, terribly stinking. Grows back easily by suckers, spreads like a weedy thing by seeds. Don't plant this plant and, as a matter of fact, kill it if you get the chance. There are tree of heaven pulling parties sponsored by naturalists where people go through woods pulling trees of heaven.
If you want to see more of this plant, I can send you picture of the one that poked through a wall in the bathroom I was redoing. Luckily no one was using it, but scary. Yes, this is a scary plant. It should be called kudzu tree. Yes, this tree could grow through the sidewalk like a tree grows in brooklyn but that's what makes it scary.
I can't understand why anyone brought it here...I think maybe as forage for silkworms...bad idea. It's so sad to see native forest swathed in these things...a real problem in this area, as in many. My perennial bed constantly has these suckers popping up. The saps irritates and stings when you try to pull it up, so use gloves.
Cut down any grown trees you can and inject herbicide into the root....... If you want a fast growing tree or something with a tropical or pinnately leafy look, plant mimosa. Negative times 100...... if I can do that........ :)
On Jul 26, 2004, shadowcatcher52 from Charleston, SC wrote:
I grew up with that tree all around us in Ohio. I now live in North Charleston SC. Guess what! Darn thing followed me! Yep, it's in my side yard! BUT, I keep it under control. Every once in awhile, I have the pleasure of yanking it out of my flowerbeds! To me, it's as bad as the Pop Corn tree which I ended up with, thanks to a little bird. Due to the new laws, I can't cut it down! Which means, do NOT let that bad boy get started good!
I was laughing at the descriptions about the Sumac trees and called my Mother. She was telling me that in the old days the seeds were used to make a cough syrup! They even made pies with it. I would not recommend it. I heard they were poisonous! One thing, though, you do have to admit about the sumac is the leaves are beautiful red in the fall and the red plume is, too. Now, if it wasn't such a royal pain!
On Jul 9, 2004, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:
I have never noticed quite how invasive this tree is until I went for a car ride one day and observed it growing in 9 out of 10 of all the ditches, unmowed lawns, sides of the roads, edge of the woods and in fields.
I have a couple of these trees in my backyard at the wood line but for some reason, there is only three trees and it stays only three trees. If I see any volunteers, I will definitely not hesitate to pull them up, though. Removing the mature trees would be quite expensive.
The seeds are easily spread by wildlife, birds in particular, and I have found one seedling in the front yard. I have not noticed the trees giving off an offensive odor except for an odor reminiscent of peanut butter if I get close enough to whiff the leaves.
Edited to say that I don't actually know now, that the trees in my backyard are stink trees or black walnut. Maybe a mix of both? But the rest of my comment is the same.
On Jun 26, 2004, dontdoit from Albuquerque, NM wrote:
Don't do it! My husband and I bought a house where the previous owner did nothing to his yard for 5 years and we bought it not knowing it was full of these monsters. "Clear it out" we said... Ha! We clear, pull, clear again and pull again and again. Two years later we are still trying to eradicate these evil trees. We have finally decided to chop them all down and poison the root system. I never use toxins but am willing to make an exception if it will get rid of this tree. I dream of harmless fruit trees. If you are seriously thinking of planting one of these beasts please reconsider. I even have one growing up through the cement floor in my garage!
On Jun 16, 2004, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
It cannot be stated strongly enough that Ailanthus altissima is a very invasive tree under the right conditions and is a major threat to native forests in some regions. The worst I have seen is in central Tennessee, on rich, moist humusy soils over limestone, where Ailanthus is very common even in the interior of mature forests in natural areas. When a large canopy gap is formed by the death of a mature tree, Ailanthus can seed in to the gap and impede reproduction of native species ...as well as spreading by suckers to form dense thickets. I would hope that those in rural areas surrounded by native forests would eradicate this tree from their property if possible.
On Jun 15, 2004, Terre_ from Golden, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:
Definitely not something you want to bring to your yard. If you are in an area where you need a fast growing windbreak, this might be your tree, but that is the only use for it I can find, although I never noticed the smell. I have one huge one in my yard, and several million babies. Drought doesn't bother it, since we've been in drought for several years. The seeds are sprouting in the garden where everything else burned up, soil temperature 127 degrees on the thermometer. Cold and snow don't bother it either, I am zone 5, altitude 7000 ft. Send these for postage to your worst enemy.
On May 25, 2004, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:
These trees are very invasive along streams in the wild in southern California. The local Native Plant Society has spent a lot of time and effort trying to eradicate them in as environmentally-friendly a way as possible.
On May 5, 2004, riverrafter from Cicero, IL wrote:
In my opinion, the Tree of Heaven is actually a pretty nice tree to have. I can not understand why people would say that the blossoms smelled terrible because they really dont seem to smell that bad. In fact, I actually smelled the blossoms before, and to me, the blossoms actually smell like butter.
Also, it even appears that the Tree of Heaven seems to be slightly stronger and more flexible than the Silver Maple. On July 5th, 2003, there was a microburst where I live, and from the way my backyard Tree of Heaven was blowing around, that wind had to be in excess of 65 or 70 miles per hour, and no more than 1 or 2 small twigs were broken.
That same wind downed numerous limbs elsewhere, including a monsterous, nearly 50 foot limb from a Silver Maple that actually crushed a car! When I told an old friend about how my tree survived, he said; "The Tree of Heaven will survive almost anything." Also, I was even told that the Tree of Heaven might even be resistant to the Asian Longhorned Beetle!
On Mar 19, 2004, dlnorton from Riverside, CA wrote:
I can take or leave it. (Actually, I'd rather leave it..somewhere else) I found out that if you cut it down and dry out the wood, it burns great!! Don't cook with it though. I have these trees growing all over my yard. I've even had one growing up through my old swamp cooler. I live in Riverside, CA.. zone 9-10 and these trees can be seen all over this city...and area. One positive, since these trees are so high, I've been able to hang some of my shortwave antennas in the branches by using a rock and a line and with a little umph..I can get that antenna way up in there. But the only draw back is that these trees grow so fast in a year, I have to remove all my antennas before they are destroyed.
I also found out..rats won't eat ailanthis. We also had a black locust tree (6ft. circum. trunk) and the rats completely stripped that tree's bark in the branches, so much so that it died back considerably and had to be removed. But those lousy rodents never once touched the ailanthus. Our biggest ailanthis has a 4-5 ft. circum. trunk. I have to give the plant credit...it never gives up. But I'm always finding a way to kill them.
On Sep 4, 2003, margu from Los Angeles, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:
Even though this thing is trying to take over my yard, I have to give it a neutral because it actually is a nice looking tree and grows really fast. And I have found a way to (so far) successfully eradicate the new growth. I've been using Ortho "brush-be-gone" on it. You cut the plant off at the base and IMMEDIATELY brush the solution directly onto the cut with a paintbrush. I really give it a good soaking, and so far, none of the plants have come back in the treated areas. Keeping my fingers crossed.....
I live in the Pacific Northwest area (U.S.), and I have just agreed to pay $500+ to have an 80' tall Ailanthus altisima removed. Until the tree removal specialist came out to give the estimate, I did not know what it was; I just called it "that nasty, smelly tree."
Luckily, it is in a part of my yard where it does not drop leaves or sprout other plants, so other than the putrid smell in the otherwise lovely early summer evenings, and the heavy shade it makes, it doesn't bother me. I am going to leave the large ivy-covered stump to provide habitat, although the stump will be poisoned to prevent resprouting.
Do not plant this tree - it will ruin your summer evenings because of the stink.
On Apr 29, 2003, kldimond from Lake Hughes, CA wrote:
These trees make excellent shade, and are a truly aggressive species. So, if you have a brown thumb or a dead yard, this tree will boost your confidence. You'll have a forest before you can say, "oh-oh."
A previous owner of our property left us several of these trees. It would seem that every single seed they produce (bazillions) will germinate. (We have sandy soil, alkaline with not the best nutrients; temps range from 10-110 deg F; 3,600 ft elevation.) I would estimate that my wife and I kill well over 1,000 sprouting trees, throughout Spring and Summer.
When you pull up these sprouting monstrosities, they break easily, and the tuberous root system re-sprouts multiple trunks. If you keep breaking them off or cutting them down (instead of digging them up) in hopes of killing them, you'll have a crown sending up several young trunks within the same season. You MUST dig them up, or you're stuck with them.
One could almost say that to prompt them to grow, try to kill them.
They are a profoundly messy tree (leaves and the twigs they grow on) and pernicious weed. The wood's good for nothing. I found a way to get these monstrosities not to produce seeds. Prune them. I cut off probably 12-15 percent of upper growth of two of the trees last year at about this time (Jan), and they produced NOT ONE SEED, while the other trees, which I didn't prune, produced as usual. This doesn't mean that the tuber roots won't retaliate this year. We shall see. But at least no seed from those trees.
Update September 26, 2007
The mature wood, as others have reported, is actually decent firewood. It burns very hot and fast, and lights easily.)
Acknowledging what others have said about medicinal properties. I haven't used it, but I'm finding that the homeopathic community has been using it. Don't try it unless you know what you're doing--REALLY know.
Knowing about these trees has become something of a hobby for me since moving in among them 5+ years ago. So I pay attention to oddities and patterns.
Today, as many times before, I heard the buzzing of zillions of bees around these trees. At first, I thought it had to be flies, but on inspection, it was indeed bees. There are no flowers on these trees at this time of year. What was attracting BEES? Why were they landing on the leaves?
Well, folks, these bizarro trees have some kind of gland on the leaves themselves, that exude something the bees are interested in!
I'm adding some photos, closeups of the leaves.
This tree grows like a reed, then becomes a tree. At an place in the tree, it can return to reedy growth. Weird stuff.
I have to give the tree credit as a survivor. I also acknowledge it has some uses. But that doesn't make it any less invasive or troublesome.
I don't know why they call this the "Tree of Heaven". Although it is very beautiful and tropical-looking, it has its drawbacks. The tree is very invasive. It grows any place. Even in the crack of a driveway. The tree grows new sprouts from the root system and or seeds that fall all season. My lawn is half grass half tree sprouts. This tree is the last to get leaves in the spring and when all other leave have fallen this tree still has them, so you end up rakeing in the snow. After the leaves fall then the sticks the leaves are on fall, makes a mess in yard. When you cut the grass the smell is nasty. Even if you have the tree cut down, its very, very hard to kill the root system. Seems it lives forever. Too bad for me... I have one in the front yard and one in the back a million in my grass and some in the cracks of sidewalk and drive way. This tree is way way out of control.
This somewhat tropical looking tree, when properly cared for can be a showy very attractive tree that can accept adverse conditions to the extreme and is, therefore, valuable in many situations that otherwise do not merit growth of almost anything.
The female tree has a nice display of flowers and seed clusters I find of interest for their longevity and color.
The often described foul odor is, to me, somewhat like burnt peanuts.
After allowing a volunteer to grow in place of my former small pines, unearthed by an unusally wet winter and heavy snow laden branches, I am please that after 5 years it has attained a height of at least 20 feet! It has not, however, produced a single blossom, and I have yet to find a source of information as to the maturation to flowering. Oh yes.. hope it is a Female!
On Sep 1, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:
A rapid growing deciduous tree that can reach 80 feet or more. In late spring, clusters of small, yellow-green flowers appear near the tips of branches. Seeds are produced on female trees in late summer to early fall, in flat, twisted, papery structures.
All parts of the tree,especially the flowers,have a strong, offensive odor. This is a prolific seed producer, grows rapidly, and can overrun native vegetation. Once established, it can quickly take over and form a thicket. The root system is aggressive enough to cause damage to sewers and foundations. Should be considered a weed as once it gets started its impossible to get rid of.
Since I really can't see anything good about this tree wonder how it got the name Tree of Heaven...
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
, (2 reports) New Market, Alabama Cordes Lakes, Arizona Sedona, Arizona Williamson, Arizona Highfill, Arkansas West Fork, Arkansas Atascadero, California Davis, California Fontana, California Irvine, California La Mirada, California Lake Hughes, California Lake Nacimiento, California Lakeside, California Lompoc, California Los Angeles, California Lower Lake, California Manhattan Beach, California Oak View, California Redding, California (2 reports) Reseda, California Riverside, California Sacramento, California San Diego, California (3 reports) San Jose, California San Luis Obispo, California San Pedro, California Santa Barbara, California Templeton, California Avondale, Colorado Boulder, Colorado Fruita, Colorado Grand Junction, Colorado Pueblo, Colorado (2 reports) South Daytona, Florida Canton, Georgia Kuna, Idaho Belleville, Illinois Champaign, Illinois Chicago, Illinois Cicero, Illinois Hollowayville, Illinois Long Creek, Illinois Homecroft, Indiana Plainfield, Indiana Denison, Iowa Lawrence, Kansas Clermont, Kentucky Concord, Kentucky Georgetown, Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky Louisville, Kentucky Boonsboro, Maryland Brookeville, Maryland Cresaptown-bel Air, Maryland Lawrence, Massachusetts Pelham, Massachusetts Detroit, Michigan Vandercook Lake, Michigan Maclain, Mississippi Saint Louis, Missouri Hooper, Nebraska Lincoln, Nebraska Fernley, Nevada Pahrump, Nevada Burlington, New Jersey Hamilton, New Jersey Carlsbad, New Mexico Clovis, New Mexico Placitas, New Mexico Santa Fe, New Mexico Socorro, New Mexico Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico Brooklyn, New York Buffalo, New York East Kingston, New York Greenwood Lake, New York New York, New York (3 reports) Rochester, New York West Seneca, New York Batavia, Ohio Bucyrus, Ohio Columbus, Ohio Deer Park, Ohio Elida, Ohio Fresno, Ohio Glouster, Ohio Massillon, Ohio Tulsa, Oklahoma Drain, Oregon Portland, Oregon Bonneauville, Pennsylvania East Norriton, Pennsylvania Greencastle, Pennsylvania Lebanon, Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Conway, South Carolina Spartanburg, South Carolina Dandridge, Tennessee Amarillo, Texas Benbrook, Texas Dallas, Texas Odessa, Texas Magna, Utah Mount Olympus, Utah Orem, Utah West Valley City, Utah Jolivue, Virginia North Shore, Virginia Winchester, Virginia Alderwood Manor, Washington Colville, Washington North Sultan, Washington Falling Waters, West Virginia Altoona, Wisconsin