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You are here: Home / Plants / Species Profiles / Tree-of-Heaven
Species Profiles


Tree-of-HeavenScientific name: Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle (ITIS)

Common names: Tree-of-heaven, China-sumac, varnishtree

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Selected Resources

Native To: China (Fryer 2010)

Date of U.S. Introduction: Late 1700s (Fryer 2010)

Means of Introduction: Ornamental (Fryer 2010)

Impacts: Crowds out native species; damages pavement and building foundations in urban areas (Fryer 2010)

Current U.S. Distribution:

  • Invasive Species Maps
    USDA. FS. Northern Research Station.
    Maps are organized for 43 invasive plant species into five categories: trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, and grasses. Select the desired species to view the distribution information for northern states.
  • Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System (EDDMapS) - Tree-of-Heaven
    University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
    Provides state, county, point and GIS data. Maps can be downloaded and shared.



Selected Resources:

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Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands - Ailanthus altissima
California Invasive Plant Council.
Bossard, C.C., J.M. Randall, and M.C. Hoshovsky (Editors). 2000. Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands. University of California Press. Berkeley, CA.

Invasive Plants of Ohio: Fact Sheet 17 - Tree-of-Heaven (PDF | 306 KB)
Ohio Invasive Plants Council.
Included as one of the worst invasive plant species in Ohio's natural areas; for others see Invasive Plants of Ohio.

Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual - Tree-of-Heaven
Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council.


Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) - Ailanthus altissima
USDA. FS. Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry.

Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE) - Tree-of-heaven, Copal Tree
University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States - Tree of Heaven
University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Texas Invasives Database - Ailanthus altissima

Invasive Species Compendium - Ailanthus altissima
CAB International.

Great Britain Non-Native Species Secretariat.

Global Invasive Species Database - Ailanthus altissima (shrub, tree)
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.


Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) - Ailanthus altissima
USDA. ARS. National Genetic Resources Program.

Ailanthus altissima - Invasive Plants of Asian Origin Established in the United States and Their Natural Enemies (2004; PDF | 688 KB)
USDA. Forest Service.

Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) - Ailanthus altissima
USDA. FS. Rocky Mountain Research Station. Fire Sciences Laboratory.

PLANTS Database - Tree of Heaven
USDA. NRCS. National Plant Data Center.

Weeds in Australia - Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Australian Government. Department of the Environment.

Weed Identification Tool - Tree of Heaven
Brisbane City Council (Australia).


Tree-of-Heaven Control (PDF | 49 KB)
Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Forest Service.

Missouri Department of Conservation.

Invasive Species Leaflet - Ailanthus altissima (Tree-of-Heaven) (2010; PDF | 160 KB)
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Forest Service.

Common Ohio Trees - Tree-of-Heaven
Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Division of Forestry.

Invasive Plants in Pennsylvania: Tree of Heaven (PDF | 256 KB)
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Control and Utilization of Tree-of-Heaven: A Guide for Virginia Landowners (May 2009; PDF | 2.3 MB)
Virginia Department of Forestry.

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Class C Noxious Weed: Tree-of-Heaven
Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.


Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States: Tree-of-Heaven (2013; PDF | 223 KB)
University of California. Weed Research and Information Center.

Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth - Tree of Heaven
Mississippi State University. GeoResources Institute.

Introduced Species Summary Project - Tree of Heaven
Columbia University. Center for Environmental Research and Conservation.

Ohio Perennial & Biennial Weed Guide - Tree-of-Heaven
Ohio State University. Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Tree-of-Heaven (PDF | 213 KB)
University of Pennsylvania. Morris Arboretum; Delaware River Invasive Plant Partnership.

Invasive Plants and Insects: Tree-of-Heaven
Pennsylvania State University. Cooperative Extension.

Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast - Tree-of-Heaven
North Carolina State University. Cooperative Extension. Going Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants.


The Quiet Invasion: A Guide to Invasive Species of the Galveston Bay Area - Tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus, copal tree
Galveston Bay Estuary Program (Texas).

Tree of Heaven - New Invasive Plants of the Midwest Fact Sheet (PDF | 284 KB)
Midwest Invasive Plant Network.

BioBullies - Tree-of-Heaven
Natural Biodiversity (Western Pennsylvania).

Plant Conservation Alliance. Alien Plant Working Group.


Fryer, J.L. 2010. Ailanthus altissima. In: Fire Effects Information System. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.

Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Ailanthus altissima. [Accessed Sep 10, 2014].

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Last Modified: May 18, 2016
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