Ailanthus altissima

Photo Credit: 
Paul Wray
Iowa State Univ.

Tree-of-heaven is a deciduous tree that can reach 80 feet in height. Its large compound leaves are 1-4 feet in length, alternate, and composed of 10-41 smaller leaflets. Each leaflet has one or more glandular teeth along the lower margin. The leaf margins are otherwise entire or lacking teeth. (Native look-alikes have completely toothed margins.)  Flowers occur in large terminal clusters and are small and pale yellow to greenish. Flat, twisted, winged fruits each containing a single central seed are produced on female trees in late summer to early fall and may remain on the trees for long periods of time.  All parts of the tree, especially the leaves and flowers, have a nutty or burned nut odor. Look-alikes: It is important not to confuse native shrubs and trees with ailanthus - see the NPS fact sheet.

Plant Information

Common Name(s): 
tree of heaven
Shrubs, Trees
Native Region: 
Invasive Level: 
Level 1
Part Sun
Part Shade

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