Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Wood Products
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Ailanthus cacodendron (Ehrh.) Schinz & Thell.
- Ailanthus giraldii Dode
- Ailanthus glandulosa Desf.
- Ailanthus peregrina (Buc'hoz) F. A. Barkley
- Ailanthus sutchuensis Dode
- Ailanthus vilmoriniana Dode
- Albonia peregrina Buc'hoz
- Pongelion glandulosum (Desf.) Pierre
- Rhus cacodendron Ehrh.
- Toxicodendron altissimum Mill.
International Common Names
- English: China sumac; copal tree; tree of heaven; varnish tree
- Spanish: arbol del cielo; zumaque falso
- French: ailante; ailante glanduleux; arbre des dieux; arbre du ciel; faux vernis du Japon
- Chinese: bai chun; chou chun; chun shu
Local Common Names
- Germany: Götterbaum
- Italy: ailanto
- South Africa: hemelboom
- Sweden: gudatraed; himmelstraed
- AILAL (Ailanthus altissima)
- AILGI (Ailanthus giraldii)
- AILVI (Ailanthus vilmoriniana)
- tree of heaven
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Prolific fruiting, ready germination, adaptability to infertile sites and rapid growth rate make A. altissima a noxious weed in many countries where it has been introduced (Feret, 1985; Shah, 1997). In the USA, it is declared invasive in Hawaii (University of Hawaii Botany Department, 1998) and several southern states, and monitored in 13 other states (Miller et al., 2003). However, the Invaders Database System (Rice, 2002) reports that it is not noxious in the five northwest states and that it is not listed on the US federal noxious weed list. In Australia, A. altissima is listed as a noxious weed with levels of control varying among states (Anon., 1998). In Victoria, it is designated a regionally controlled weed under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CaLP Act), a category W2/W3 weed under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 (NWA) in New South Wales, in Western Australia it is prohibited until assessed, and it is a declared weed in other states and territories (Anon., 1998). In South Africa it is a category 3 weed according to the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 1983, so landowners are responsible for curtailing its spread and it is prohibited within the vicinity of watercourses.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Rutales
- Family: Simaroubaceae
- Genus: Ailanthus
- Species: Ailanthus altissima
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The genus Ailanthus comprises about 10 species, naturally occurring in Asia and north Oceania. A. altissima was named in 1916 by Swingle. Three varieties, vars. altissima, tanakai and sutchuensis, are recognized (Chen, 1997); several other varieties have also been described.
DescriptionTop of page
A. altissima has gracefully curving branches, usually only 6-10 m tall, but sometimes growing up to 30 m high. The bark is smooth with pale stripes. Leaves up to 90 cm long, pinnate compound, pubescent or nearly glabrous, the lower pinnae having a blunt tooth near the base together with a large gland, leaflets up to 25, ovate-acute, usually with 1-3 pairs of glandular teeth near the base, otherwise entire. Flowers are unisexual, small and yellow, in large panicles; male flowers having an unpleasant odour. The seeds are contained within one-celled, one-seeded, oblong, thin, spirally-twisted samaras, 3 x 0.8 cm and light reddish-brown. The seeds have no endosperm. There are about 7000 seeds per kg.
Plant TypeTop of page Broadleaved
DistributionTop of page
A. altissima is native to northern and central China, ranging from Liaoning and Hebei in the north to Guangxi and Fujian in the south, and from Zhejiang and Shandong in the east to Gansu in the west (Li, 1963; Zheng, 1978; Liu, 1988).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|China||Widespread||Native||Liu, 1988; Li, 1963; Zheng, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Fujian||Present||Native||Liu, 1988; Li, 1963; Zheng, 1978|
|-Guangxi||Present||Native||Liu, 1988; Li, 1963; Zheng, 1978|
|-Shandong||Present||Native||Liu, 1988; Li, 1963; Zheng, 1978|
|-Zhejiang||Present||Native||Liu, 1988; Li, 1963; Zheng, 1978|
|Georgia (Republic of)||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|India||Present||Introduced||Singh et al., 1992; EPPO, 2014|
|-Himachal Pradesh||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luna, 1996|
|-Jammu and Kashmir||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luna, 1996|
|Iran||Present||Introduced||Planted||Luna, 1996; EPPO, 2014|
|Japan||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Natural||Singh et al., 1992; EPPO, 2014|
|Korea, Republic of||Present||Introduced||Planted||EPPO, 2014|
|Pakistan||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Planted||Hussain , 2002; EPPO, 2014|
|South Africa||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Henderson , 2001; EPPO, 2014|
|Canada||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||Luken & Thieret, 1997; Weber , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|-British Columbia||Present||Introduced||Luken & Thieret, 1997; EPPO, 2014|
|-Ontario||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Luken & Thieret, 1997; EPPO, 2014|
|Mexico||Present||Introduced||Weber , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|USA||Widespread||Introduced||1784||Invasive||Holm and et al. , 1979; Feret, 1985; Shah, 1997; EPPO, 2014|
|-Alabama||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Alaska||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Weber , 2003|
|-Arizona||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Arkansas||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-California||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Colorado||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Connecticut||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Delaware||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Florida||Present||Introduced||Luken & Thieret, 1997; Feret, 1985; Shah, 1997|
|-Georgia||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Hawaii||Present||Introduced||Invasive||University of Hawaii Botany Department, 1998|
|-Idaho||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Illinois||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Indiana||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Iowa||Present||Introduced||Luken & Thieret, 1997; Feret, 1985; Shah, 1997|
|-Kansas||Present||Introduced||Luken & Thieret, 1997; Feret, 1985; Shah, 1997|
|-Kentucky||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Luken & Thieret, 1997; SE-EPPC, 2002|
|-Louisiana||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Maine||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Maryland||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Massachusetts||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Feret, 1985; Shah, 1997; Westbrooks , 1998|
|-Michigan||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Mississippi||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Missouri||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Nebraska||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-New Jersey||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-New Mexico||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-New York||Present||Introduced||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-North Carolina||Present||Introduced||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Ohio||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Oklahoma||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Pennsylvania||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Rhode Island||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-South Carolina||Present||Introduced||Natural||Luken & Thieret, 1997|
|-Tennessee||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Luken & Thieret, 1997; SE-EPPC, 2002|
|-Texas||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Feret, 1985; Shah, 1997; Westbrooks , 1998|
|-Virginia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Anon, 2002; SE-EPPC, 2002|
|-Washington||Present||Introduced||Natural||Rice , 2002|
|Argentina||Present||Introduced||Weber , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|Chile||Present||Introduced||Holm and et al. , 1979; Weber , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|Czech Republic||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|France||Present||Introduced||1740s||Invasive||Kowarik, 1983; Lepart et al., 1991; Cronk and Fuller , 1995; EPPO, 2014|
|-Corsica||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Germany||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Greece||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Cronk and Fuller , 1995; EPPO, 2014|
|Hungary||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Cronk and Fuller , 1995; EPPO, 2014|
|Italy||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Badalamenti et al., 2012; EPPO, 2014|
|-Sardinia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Malta||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Moldova||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Portugal||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|-Azores||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Weber , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|Romania||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Spain||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Sanz-Elorza et al., 2004; DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|-Balearic Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|UK||Present||Introduced||Hu, 1979; Weber , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|-England and Wales||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Ukraine||Present||Introduced||Invasive||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Holm and et al. , 1979; Cronk and Fuller , 1995; EPPO, 2014|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Natural||Anon, 1998|
|-Victoria||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Cronk and Fuller , 1995; Anon, 1998|
|-Western Australia||Present||Introduced||Natural||Anon, 1998|
|New Zealand||Present||Introduced||Weber , 2003; EPPO, 2014|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
A. altissima was introduced into the USA in 1784 and has become extensively naturalized in North America (Luken and Thieret, 1997), from Massachusetts to southern Ontario (Canada), Iowa and Kansas, and south to Texas and Florida, as well as from the southern Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast (Feret, 1985; Shah, 1997). It was reported to be already widespread and naturalized in Tennessee in the late 1800s (SE-EPPC, 2002) and in some parts of the USA it is so well established that it appears to be a part of the native flora (Schopmeyer, 1974).
A. altissima has been introduced from China and Japan to India, where it is cultivated in the plains and hills of the north (Singh et al., 1992). It grows abundantly along roadsides in Himachal Pradesh and is able to grow on barren and stony substrates. It is used for afforestation in Jammu and Kashmir and as an avenue tree elsewhere. In Iran, it is planted in green belts around cities in semi-arid areas (Luna, 1996).
A. altissima has become naturalized in many of the temperate regions it has been introduced to, including Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Australia||1845||Yes||No||Parsons and Cuthbertson (2001)|
|Europe||France||1750s||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Hu (1979); Kramer (1995)|
|France||China||1740s||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Hu (1979)|
|North America||Europe||1784||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Shah (1997)|
|UK||France||1751||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Hu (1979); Kramer (1995)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page It is likely to be further internationally introduced intentionally, particularly for ornament, shelter and soil erosion control.
HabitatTop of page
A. altissima is native to subtropical/warm temperate climates but is able to invade climates ranging from cool temperate to tropical. In South Africa it invades forest margins, roadsides and riverbanks in cool, moist regions (Henderson, 2001). In Europe, A. altissima has colonized disturbed sites along roads and ditches, particularly in the Mediterranean region, where has successfully invaded several habitats including old fields, scrubland and pine, oak and riparian forests (Kowarik, 1983; Lepart et al., 1991; Kowarik and Säumel, 2007; Constán-Nava, 2012). It is the most widespread woody invasive species invading wooded areas in the USA, occurring wherever moisture allows (Luken and Thieret, 1997).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
On the basis of morphological, physiological and biochemical characters of young A. altissima seedlings from USA and mainland Chinese seed sources, Feret and Bryant (1974) concluded that significant alterations of genetic content have occurred since the introduction and naturalization of A. altissima in the USA 200 years ago. However, there was no evidence of inbreeding depression in the American seedlings and they appeared to be as genetically variable as the Chinese seedlings. Xiong et al. (1993) studied 49 provenances from 11 regions of the north Yangtze river valley, China, and found considerable variation in seed colour, size weight and thickness of samaras among provenances, and a weak correlation between seed weight and seedling growth and latitude. In clonal trials, Zhang et al. (1998) estimated that the broad sense heritability for height is 38%. There is greater potential to obtain higher genetic gain at the provenance level, but selection of families should not be wholly ignored (Li et al., 1988; Xiong et al., 1993; Zhang et al., 1998).
Physiology and Phenology
The tree bears unisexual flowers on different trees. Both male and female flowers appear during July to August. Flowering occurs during May to June and seeds ripen in large, crowned clusters in September to October of the same season, and are dispersed from October to the following spring. Early flowering of vegetatively propagated trees is not a rare phenomenon (Zheng, 1978; Chen, 1997). A. altissima has good drought resistance as it can reduce transpiration at the hottest point of the day, and a ring-porous wood structure which permits rapid transfer of water from the roots to the leaves, both of which have contributed to its success in mediterranean regions (Lepart et al., 1991).
Flowers are unisexual, and a single tree can produce up to 1 million wind-dispersed seeds in a year (Weber, 2003).
A. altissima is found in temperate to sub-tropical climates, but does not thrive in heavy monsoon rainfall areas as seedlings are killed off. Mean annual rainfall is generally in the range 400-1400 mm per annum, but it will also tolerate a 4-8 month dry season. In submontane zones, it is found in areas with an annual rainfall of 500-700 mm. In Central Europe, climate is the major factor affecting its distribution, whereas in mediterranean regions its distribution is affected more by site fertility than by climatic factors. Preferred mean annual temperature is 7-18°C, and it can also tolerate heavy frosts, and survive absolute minimum temperatures as low as -35°C. A. altissima is an interesting example of a species that has become invasive outside its natural climate zone, i.e. it is native to subtropical/warm temperate climates but is able to invade climates ranging from cool temperate to tropical (Cronk and Fuller, 1995; Kowarik and Säumel, 2007).
A. altissima grows best on loose and porous soils, but can grow on a variety of soils from sandy or clayey loams to calcareous dry and shallow soils (Kowarik and Säumel, 2007). It can even tolerate barren rocky hills, if the rainfall is >750 mm per annum (Zheng, 1978, 1988). A. altissima is found at a range of altitudes of 20-2400 m, and in the temperate zone of the Himalayas, it grows between 1500 to 1800 m above sea level (Kowarik and Säumel, 2007).
A. altissima occurs in associations ranging from coniferous Mediterranean to broadleaved submediterranean.
ClimateTop of page
|B - Dry (arid and semi-arid)||Tolerated||< 860mm precipitation annually|
|BS - Steppe climate||Tolerated||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|BW - Desert climate||Tolerated||< 430mm annual precipitation|
|C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate||Preferred||Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-35|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||7||18|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||28||32|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||-10||0|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||4||8||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||400||1400||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Summer
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Two important insect pests recorded for A. altissima are Eligma narcissus and Lycorma delicatula. E. narcissus is a serious defoliator of saplings. L. delicatula is a serious pest borer, which attacks stems and branches and makes the bark darker in colour and susceptible to dry rot. Coccygomimus disparis is a natural enemy of L. delicatula. Dong et al. (1993) studied the biocontrol of overwintering larvae of Eucryptorrhynchus chinensis using the entomophilic nematodes Steinernema sp., S. feltiae and S. glaseri. Seedlings mainly suffer from root rots (Rhizoctonia and Fusarium spp.), and are also susceptible to Verticillium wilt. A. altissima is resistant to root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) and Anoplophora glabripennis (Zhang et al., 1992; Santamour and Riedel, 1993). 46 phytophagous arthropods, 16 fungi, and one potyvirus were reported attacking Ailanthus altissima in China, some apparently causing significant damage (Ding et al., 2006).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Seeds may be dispersed long distances from the parent plant by the wind, and also by water and road traffic as secondary dispersal mechanisms (Kota, 2005; Kowarik and Lippe, 2006, 2011; Kaproth and McGraw, 2008; Säumel and Kowarik, 2010). Intentional introduction has been the common means of long distance dispersal, introduced to North America, Europe and Australasia for timber, shade and urban amenity plantings.
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Disturbance||Frequent, both accidental and deliberate||Yes||Constán-Nava, 2012; Kowarik and Säumel, 2007|
|Escape from confinement or garden escape||Frequent, accidental||Yes||Constán-Nava, 2012; Kowarik and Säumel, 2007|
|Horticulture||Frequent, deliberate||Yes||Yes||Kowarik and Säumel, 2007; Ruiz et al., 1990|
|Medicinal use||Frequent, deliberate||Yes||Feret, 1985|
|Ornamental purposes||Frequent, deliberate||Yes||Yes||Kowarik and Säumel, 2007|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
|Land vehicles||Frequent, seed||Yes||Yes||Kowarik and Lippe, 2006; Kowarik and Lippe, 2011|
|Plants or parts of plants||Frequent, seed or clonal growth||Yes||Yes||Kowarik and Säumel, 2007|
|Water||Frequent, seed||Yes||Yes||Kowarik and Lippe, 2011|
|Wind||Frequent, seed||Yes||Yes||Kowarik and Säumel, 2007|
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Bark||eggs||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Leaves||fruiting bodies; hyphae; plasmodia; sclerotia; sporangia; spores||Yes||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Roots||larvae; adults; cysts; eggs; juveniles||Yes||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||fruiting bodies; hyphae; plasmodia; sclerotia; sporangia; spores||Yes||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
Wood PackagingTop of page
|Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Timber type||Used as packing|
|Processed or treated wood||No|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Biodiversity
In the USA, from Massachusetts to Texas, A. altissima forms dense thickets that displace native vegetation, and is especially invasive along stream banks in the west (Westbrooks, 1998). Young trees grow rapidly, out-competing many other plant species for light and space. Toxins produced in the bark and leaves accumulate in the soil and inhibit the growth of other plants (Anon., 2002). In riparian communities, lower plant species richness and phylodiversity were associated to the presence of A. altissima (Constán-Nava, 2012).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts human health
- Negatively impacts animal health
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
A. altissima is mainly valued for shade, shelterbelt and erosion control, particularly in cities where soils are poor and the atmosphere is smoky. It has also been employed in land reclamation of landfill sites (Lee et al., 1997). The wood is light and soft with yellowish-white sapwood and yellowish-brown heartwood. It is easy to dry and process and the wood is somewhat decay-resistant. In India the wood is considered to be perishable and subject to staining. It is suitable for construction, packaging, furniture, paper pulp, fibre industry and for match wood. In India, it is considered to be a poor quality match wood. It is used for fuelwood and charcoal production in several countries. The leaves can be used as a fodder for silkworms. The roots can be used to treat epilepsy and asthma. Seeds are a source of a fatty oil and protein; the oil being bitter but can be used after refining (Zheng, 1978; IWS, 1982; Chen et al., 1992). The roots and leaves contain allelopathic and herbicidal compounds (Heisey, 1990, 1997; Lin et al., 1995).
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Fodder/animal feed
- Invertebrate food for silkworms
- Erosion control or dune stabilization
- Shade and shelter
- Essential oils
- Miscellaneous materials
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Wood ProductsTop of page
- Short-fibre pulp
- Building poles
- Roundwood structures
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- Engineering structures
- Exterior fittings
- For heavy construction
- For light construction
Prevention and ControlTop of page
A. altissima is very difficult to remove once a taproot has been established. The plant can persist after burning, cutting and herbicide treatment and it is recommended that seedlings are removed by hand as early as possible, removing the entire taproot. Cutting stumps stimulates resprouting instead of eliminating it (Burch and Zedaker, 2003, Kowarik and Säumel, 2007). Even double-cut stump per year does not reduce its resprouting ability at long term (Constán-Nava et al., 2010).
Cut stump with chemical application treatment such as the gyphosate herbicide reduces significantly the presence of A. altissima (Burch and Zedaker, 2003; Meloche and Murphy, 2006; DiTomaso and Kyser, 2007; Constán-Nava et al., 2010; Bowker and Stringer, 2011). Also, stem-injection of herbicide kills A. altissima trees (Meloche and Murphy, 2006; Badalamenti et al., 2013). SE-EPPC (2002) described a foliar spray method using glyphosate or triclopyr for large thickets of seedlings if the risk to non-target species is minimal.
Luken and Thieret (1997) cited reports of preliminary investigations into natural enemies. To assess the biological control of A. altissima, Ding et al. (2006) selected two weevils (Eucryptorrhynchus brandti, E. chinensis), one heteropteran (Orthopagus lunulifer) and three fungal pathogens (Alternaria ailanthi, Aecidium ailanthi and a Coleosporium sp.) (see Notes on Natural Enemies). Lennox et al. (1999) found that commercial stump treatment based on the fungus Cylindrobasidium laeve (Pers.) Chamuris killed 80% of treated stumps in South Africa.
ReferencesTop of page
Anon, 1998. Noxious Weeds List for Australian States and Territories. National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee (NWSEC), Australia. http://www.weeds.org.au/index.html.
Anon, 2002. Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia - Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima (Miller) Swingle). USA: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). http://www.dcr.state.va.us/dnh/fsaial.pdf.
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Badalamenti E, Mantia TLa, 2013. Stem-injection of herbicide for control of Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle: a practical source of power for drilling holes in stems. iForest. http://www.sisef.it/iforest/contents?id=ifor0693-006
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29/04/14 Updated by:
Soraya Constán Nava, University of Alicante, Spain
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