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Trees of Iowa: An Interactive Key

Tree of Heaven
(Ailanthus altissima)



The Tree of Heaven is also known as the Chinese Sumach, Copal-Tree, Stink Tree, and Varnish Tree. It is often confused with sumac; however the Tree of Heaven can be distinguished by the foul odor it emits.

Hardiness: zones 5 through 8

Growth Rate:
Fast

Mature Shape:
Rounded

Height:
70 to 100 Feet

Width:
35 to 50 feet

Site Requirements:
Full sun on well drained moist soil, but can survive almost anywhere

Flowering Dates: April - July

Seed Dispersal Dates: Fall - Winter

Seed Bearing Age: 2-3 years

Seed Bearing Frequency:Every year

Seed Stratification: Prechill for 2 months at 34F to 40F

It is a deciduous tree that can grow 40 to 60 feet tall, maximum height of 89 feet, with a trunk diameter of 2 to 3 feet. The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, 1 to 3 feet long, with thick smooth petioles; having 11 to 41 leaflets, each 1 to 2 inches long, ovate-lance shaped, unequal base, entire margins with teeth at the base and dark green on top and paler underneath. The fruit or seeds are winged papery samaras; red, yellow, and green, and hang in dense clusters.

In June the pistillate trees bear large clusters of seeds, and the staminate trees emit a malodorous stench.  The Tree of Heaven grows rapidly and is very difficult to eradicate once its established – competes aggressively with more desirable native trees.

A native to China and Taiwan and naturalized in North America – commonly cultivated. Considered an invasive species along roadsides, and neglected property.

 

Click on a thumbnail image below to view a larger picture.
Tree of Heaven Leaves Tree of Heaven Fruit Tree of Heaven Leaves Tree of Heaven Leaves Tree of Heaven Bark Tree of Heaven Form Tree of Heaven Fruit Tree of Heaven Bark Tree of Heaven Twig