WSU Clark County Extension

PNW Plants Searchable, categorized images

Tree of Heaven

Scientific name: Ailanthus altissima

Type:Invasive plants
Plant Requirements
Zone:5 to 8
Sun:Full to partial sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:75 ft
Width:35 ft
Bloom:Showy flowers
Bloom Time:May to June
Bloom Color:Green
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Tree of Heaven is classified as an invasive plant as it is a prolific seed producer, grows rapidly, and can overrun native vegetation. Once established, it can quickly take over a site and form an impenetrable thicket. This a species that will survive almost anywhere, under any cultural conditions.

Tree of Heaven is deciduous tree that grows to 60’-75’ tall and 35’ wide. It bears smooth stems with pale gray bark, and twigs which are light chestnut brown. It features large pinnately compound leaves, which are 1’-4’ in length. Each leaf is comprised of 11-25 leaflets arranged alternately along the stems. Each leaflet has one to several glandular teeth near the base. Leaflets are 4”-8” long and 2” wide. While the leaves are green during the summer they do turn slightly yellow in fall before being shed.

In late spring, clusters of small, yellow-green flowers appear near the tips of branches. Seeds are produced on female trees in late summer to early fall, in flat, twisted, papery structures called samaras. These seeds are 1”-3” in length. They can remain on the trees for long periods of time.

Broken stems smell of rancid peanut butter. Male trees are reportably more odiferous than the female trees.

Tree of Heaven is widely adapted to most soil types. It can perform well in either full sun or partial shade. Ailanthus trees also produce toxins that prevent the establishment of other plant species. The root system is aggressive enough to cause damage to sewers and foundations.

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.

None reported.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234