Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tree of Heaven

The Tree of Heaven is not a heavenly tree. This invasive tree was imported from China in 1784 and rapidly spread in the US. It was greeted as a great landscape tree because it grew fast and had no natural enemies. In China it is known as “stinking chun”. I hear the leaves and male flowers smell like rotten peanut butter.

Tree of Heaven resembles a Sumac. The leaves reveal the difference.

Tree of Heaven has one to three serrations at the base of the leaf.

The Sumac leaf is serrated throughout.

The Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is difficult to get rid of once it is established. It spreads by seeds and root suckers. It can grow 10 to 15 feet a year. Repeated and frequent cutting before it gets large is recommended. For larger trees, the stump may need to be painted with an herbicide immediately after cutting. Vigilance is required to eliminate suckers that pop up. It may take 2 or 3 years to totally eliminate it in the landscape.

More information from Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Forest Service:

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