Tree of Heaven
Forests and disturbed areas
Native to Taiwan and China; invasive throughout much of North America
No listed status
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Trees of heaven are invasive trees that have large, alternating compound leaves. They have smooth, gray bark with twigs that are light-brown in color. Trees of heaven are known for their stinky odor, smelling somewhat like rotten peanuts. They grow in a variety of conditions and can withstand neglected areas and harsh conditions. Trees of heaven are capable of growing over 60 feet tall.
Trees of heaven are extremely invasive and hard to get rid of. Because of this, they are sometimes known as "tree of hell". They are also known as “stinking sumac”.
Trees of heaven were first introduced in North America during the 1700s from China. Since this tree is fast growing and not affected much from pests or disease, it was used widely in landscaping.
We now know that trees of heaven produce abundant seeds, as well as reproducing via suckers (new trees popping up from the rootstock of old trees). This has resulted in the trees taking over large areas and outcompeting many native species.
Trees of heaven also produce a chemical that prevents many plant species from growing near it to diminish its competition for water and nutrients.
National Parks Service, Tree of Heaven, 2018, https://www.nps.gov/shen/learn/nature/tree-of-heaven.htm
The Nature Conservancy, Tree of Heaven, 2020, https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/indiana/stories-in-indiana/journey-with-nature--tree-of-heaven/
U.S. Forest Service, Ailanthus altissima, 2021, https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/ailalt/all.html#HabitatTypesAndPlantCommunities
Image: NatureServe, https://www.flickr.com/photos/natureserve/16805089292, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/, cropped from original.
Image: Katja Schulz, https://www.flickr.com/photos/86548370@N00/30735482062, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/, cropped from original.
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