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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)


Tree-of-Heaven, foliage


Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Resource Management

Find more images


  • 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].