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Scientific Name

Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle (ITIS)

Common Name

Tree-of-heaven, China-sumac, varnishtree

Native To

China (Fryer 2010)

Date of U.S. Introduction

Late 1700s (Fryer 2010)

Means of Introduction

Ornamental (Fryer 2010)


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

Image use policy

Tree-of-Heaven, foliage


Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Resource Management

Find more images


  • The Silent Invasion: Nonnative Trees Threaten American Forests

    • Jan 23, 2024
    • USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

    • Nonnative tree species are gaining a foothold in forest ecosystems. These trees compete with native species for resources, sunlight, and space. Tree of heaven and Chinese tallow tree are the most invasive tree species in the South, according to a recent study which uses Forest Inventory & Analysis data to create an indicator of nonnative tree regeneration success and can help prioritize the species and locations for treatment. 

  • Controlling an Introduced Invasive: On the Search for Ailanthus' Achilles Heel

    • Jan 2023
    • USDA. FS. Northern Research Station. Rooted in Research.

    • Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven) is a rapidly growing invasive tree species introduced to the United States nearly 200 years ago. Today, this species is a common invader in many forests across the nation. Scientists with the Northern Research Station have identified a unique biological control measure for managing Ailanthus—Verticillium nonalfalfae, a native soil-borne fungus. Check out this latest issue of Rooted in Research that explores how Verticillium can reduce Ailanthus populations.

  • ARS Research News - ARS Scientists Discover a Promising Biological Control Agent for Tree-of-Heaven in France

    • Dec 1, 2021
    • USDA. Agricultural Research Service.

    • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and collaborators confirmed the presence of a newly described Eriophyid mite, a potential biological control agent for the invasive tree-of-heaven, in France. The study, published in Phytoparasitica, showed that this was the first record of the mite species in the country, and the species could be a solution for managing tree-of-heaven infestations in Europe and the United States.

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status


Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
Federal Government
International Government
State and Local Government
  • 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 26, 2023].