Plantae > Tracheophyta > Magnoliopsida > Sapindales > Simaroubaceae > Ailanthus > Ailanthus altissima

Ailanthus altissima (ailanthus; copal tree; Tree of heaven; Chinese sumac; Stinking shumac; tree-of-heaven)

Synonyms: Ailanthus altissima f. erythrocarpa; Ailanthus altissima f. rubra; Ailanthus altissima var. erythrocarpa; Ailanthus altissima var. leucoxyla; Ailanthus altissima var. microphylla; Ailanthus altissima var. myriocephala; Ailanthus altissima var. ramosissima; Ailanthus cacodendron; Ailanthus giraldii; Ailanthus giraldii var. duclouxii; Ailanthus glandulosa; Ailanthus glandulosa var. erythocarpa; Ailanthus glandulosa var. spinosa; Ailanthus guangxiensis; Ailanthus japonica; Ailanthus macrophylla; Ailanthus mascula; Ailanthus peregrina; Ailanthus procera; Ailanthus purpurascens; Ailanthus rhodoptera; Ailanthus rubra; Ailanthus vilmoriniana; Ailanthus vilmoriniana var. henanensis; Albonia peregrina; Choerospondias auriculata; Pongelion cacodendron; Pongelion glandulosum; Pongelion vilmorinianum; Rhus cacodendron; Rhus peregrina; Rhus sinensis; Toxicodendron altissimum

Wikipedia Abstract

Ailanthus vilmoriniana, commonly known as Downy Tree of Heaven, is a tree in the quassia family. It is native to western China, but is occasionally encountered in northern European gardens.
View Wikipedia Record: Ailanthus altissima


Invasive Species

Ailanthus altissima is a very aggressive plant, a prolific seed producer (up to 350,000 seeds in a year), grows rapidly, and can overrun native vegetation. It also produces toxins that prevent the establishment of other plant species. The root system is aggressive enough to cause damage to sewers and foundations.
View ISSG Record: Ailanthus altissima


Height [3]  82 feet (25 m)
Width [3]  49 feet (15 m)
Air Quality Improvement [1]  None
Allergen Potential [1]  High
Carbon Capture [1]  Medium-High
Screening - Summer [2]  Moderate
Screening - Winter [2]  Moderate
Shade Percentage [1]  86 %
Temperature Reduction [1]  Medium-Low
Wind Reduction [1]  Medium
Hardiness Zone Minimum [1]  USDA Zone: 5 Low Temperature: -20 F° (-28.9 C°) → -10 F° (-23.3 C°)
Hardiness Zone Maximum [1]  USDA Zone: 8 Low Temperature: 10 F° (-12.2 C°) → 20 F° (-6.7 C°)
Light Preference [5]  Mostly Sunny
Soil Acidity [5]  Neutral
Soil Fertility [5]  Rich
Soil Moisture [5]  Moist
Water Use [1]  Low
Flower Color [2]  Green
Foliage Color [2]  Green
Fruit Color [2]  Yellow
Flower Conspicuous [2]  Yes
Fruit Conspicuous [2]  Yes
Bloom Period [2]  Late Spring
Drought Tolerance [2]  Medium
Edible [3]  May be edible. See the Plants For A Future link below for details.
Fire Tolerance [2]  Medium
Flower Type [3]  Dioecious
Frost Free Days [2]  5 months
Fruit/Seed Abundance [2]  High
Fruit/Seed Begin [2]  Summer
Fruit/Seed End [2]  Fall
Growth Form [2]  Single Stem
Growth Period [2]  Spring, Summer
Growth Rate [2]  Rapid
Hazards [3]  The plant is possibly poisonous; Male flowers have potentially allergenic pollen; The leaves are toxic to domestic animals; Gardeners who fell the tree may suffer rashes; The odour of the foliage is intensely disagreeable and can cause headache and nausea, rhinitis and conjunctivitis;The pollen can cause hay fever;
Janka Hardness [4]  1730 lbf (785 kgf) Medium
Leaf Type [3]  Deciduous
Lifespan [2]  Perennial
Pollinators [3]  Bees
Propagation [2]  Bare Root, Container, Cutting, Seed
Root Depth [2]  30 inches (76 cm)
Scent [3]  The large leaves have glandular teeth near their base and these release a pungent aroma when pressed.
Seed Spread Rate [2]  Rapid
Seed Vigor [2]  High
Seeds Per [2]  14640 / lb (32276 / kg)
Shape/Orientation [2]  Rounded
Specific Gravity [6]  0.53
Structure [3]  Tree
Usage [3]  A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves; The leaves contain 12% tannin, quercetin, as well as isoquercetin, and the alkaloid linuthine; The leaves and wood are high in cellulose and are used in paper-making; The crushed leaves and flowers are insect-repellent; The plant parts, when steeped in water, are said to yield an insecticidal solution; An aqueous extract of the leaves contains a substance that is toxic to other tree seedlings; When plants are put into marshy areas they drain the soil and thereby remove mosquito breeding sites; The plants have extensive root systems and sucker freely, they can be used in soil-stabilization programmes; Since the plant is tolerant of soil pollution it can also be used in land reclamation schemes on old mine tips etc; Plants can be grown as a tall hedge; Wood - fairly hard, heavy, difficult to split, not durable, coarse grained. Though little used, except in poorer countries, the wood is suitable for cabinetry, cellulose manufacture, furniture, lumber, pulp, and woodwork. It is difficult to split but easy to work and polish. The wood is also used locally for charcoal and firewood; Yields of 20 cubic metres per hectare is possible for this light wood;
Vegetative Spread Rate [2]  Rapid
View Plants For A Future Record : Ailanthus altissima

Protected Areas

Name IUCN Category Area acres Location Species Website Climate Land Use
Allegheny Portage Railroad Nat'l Hist. Site National Historic Site III 1152 Pennsylvania, United States
Assateague Island National Seashore II 8621 Maryland, United States
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area National Recreation Area V 120283 Kentucky, Tennessee, United States
Blue Ridge Parkway National Parkway V 73611 North Carolina, Virginia, United States
Bluestone National Scenic River National River and Wild and Scenic Riverway V 3517 West Virginia, United States
Breckland 18652 England, United Kingdom
Carlsbad Caverns National Park II 15448 New Mexico, United States
Carolinian-South Atlantic Biosphere Reserve 310228 North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, United States      
Chippewa Nature Center   Michigan, United States    
Colonial National Historic Park National Historical Park V 9316 Virginia, United States
Cumberland Gap National Hist. Park National Historical Park V 24282 Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, United States
Death Valley National Park II 762125 California, Nevada, United States
Fire Island National Seashore V 9433 New York, United States
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Nat'l Military Park National Military Park V 10384 Virginia, United States
Friendship Hill National Historic Site III 697 Pennsylvania, United States
Gateway National Recreation Area V 1807 New Jersey, United States
Gauley River National Recreation Area V 10157 West Virginia, United States
Gettysburg National Military Park V 3560 Pennsylvania, United States
Great Smoky Mountains National Park II 515454 North Carolina, Tennessee, United States
Hobcaw Barony (North Inlet) National Estuarine Research Reserve 7585 South Carolina, United States
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site III 861 Pennsylvania, United States
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore II 8272 Indiana, United States
Mammoth Cave Area Biosphere Reserve (Natn'l Park) National Park II 51235 Kentucky, United States
Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve 5901 California, United States  
Morristown National Historical Park VI 1677 New Jersey, United States
New Jersey Pinelands Biosphere Reserve   New Jersey, United States  
New River Gorge National River National River and Wild and Scenic Riverway V 55591 West Virginia, United States
Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve 470167 Ontario, Canada  
Obed Wild and Scenic River National River and Wild and Scenic Riverway V 5268 Tennessee, United States
Oconee National Forest Botanical Reserve 306 Georgia, United States  
Palava Protected Landscape Area V   Czech Republic  
Parco Del Somma-Vesuvio e Miglio D'Oro National Park II 33648 Italy
Petersburg National Battlefield III 3338 Virginia, United States
Pipe Spring National Monument V 41 Arizona, United States
Point Pelee National Park II 5764 Ontario, Canada
Richmond National Battlefield Park III 1517 Virginia, United States
Rondeau Provincial Park II 5035 Ontario, Canada
South Atlantic Coastal Plain Biosphere Reserve 20317 South Carolina, United States  
Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve 37548505 North Carolina, Tennessee, United States  
The New Forest 72309 England, United Kingdom
Valley Forge National Historical Park VI 3509 Pennsylvania, United States
Western Michigan University's Asylum Lake Preserve 274 Michigan, United States
Zion National Park II 135667 Utah, United States


Archaeoattacus edwardsii (Edward's Atlas Moth)[7]
Attacus atlas (Atlas moth)[7]
Atteva punctella[7]
Hyphantria cunea (fall webworm)[7]
Lepidosaphes ulmi (apple oystershell scale)[8]
Pieris naganum (Naga White)[9]
Pseudaulacaspis pentagona (mulberry scale)[8]
Rothschildia arethusa[7]
Rothschildia aurota[7]
Rothschildia erycina[7]
Rothschildia hesperus[7]
Rothschildia jorulla[7]
Rothschildia lebeau[7]
Samia cynthia (Cynthia moth)[7]
Samia walkeri[7]


North America; Western Michigan University’s Asylum Lake;



Attributes / relations provided by
1i-Tree Species v. 4.0, developed by the USDA Forest Service's Northern Research Station and SUNY-ESF using the Horticopia, Inc. plant database.
2USDA Plants Database, U. S. Department of Agriculture
3Plants For A Future licensed under a Creative Commons License
4Wood Janka Hardness Scale/Chart J W Morlan's Unique Wood Gifts
5Ellenberg, H., Weber, H.E., Dull, R., Wirth, V., Werner, W., Paulissen, D. (1991) Zeigerwerte von Pflanzen in Mitteleuropa. Scripta Geobotanica 18, 1–248
6Forest Inventory and Analysis DB version 5.1, May 4, 2013, U.S. Forest Service
7HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants Gaden S. Robinson, Phillip R. Ackery, Ian J. Kitching, George W. Beccaloni AND Luis M. Hernández
8Ben-Dov, Y., Miller, D.R. & Gibson, G.A.P. ScaleNet 4 November 2009
9Jorrit H. Poelen, James D. Simons and Chris J. Mungall. (2014). Global Biotic Interactions: An open infrastructure to share and analyze species-interaction datasets. Ecological Informatics.
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Abstract provided by DBpedia licensed under a Creative Commons License
Weather provided by NOAA METAR Data Access