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Common Name:

Tree-Of-Heaven

Scientific Name:

Ailanthus altissima

Family Name:

Simaroubaceae

Description:

Despite its heavenly name this species is anything but devine. This is a very weedy species with little redeeming landscape value. It is the tree everyone loves to hate. Potentially a large coarse textured deciduous tree, plants often break up before reaching their potential. This species is very weak wooded, messy, and spreads rapidly by seed and suckers to form colonies in disturbed sites. Tree-Of-Heaven is widely naturalized in many locations in North America. A very adaptive plant on a wide range of sites, very tolerant of urban conditions. Male flowers are malodorous. Female trees produce noticeable if not showy fruit. Fall colors are ineffectual. To be fair, the foliage is sort of tropical looking and the old bark is a handsome silver-grey color with the texture of elephant hide.

Plant Habit or Use:

Tree, medium tree, large tree

Exposure:

sun, partial sun

Flower Color:

Terminal panicles of yellowish green dioecious flowers

Blooming Period:

Spring, summer

Fruit Characteristics:

Prominent terminal panicles of twisted samaras, some individual clones developing good red-orange coloration

Height:

40 ft to 50 ft (60 ft)

Width:

25 ft to 35 ft (40 ft)

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Low Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: High Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Medium Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Medium Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Medium Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

7.00
Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Verticillium wilt and wind damage can be problems. This tends to be a short-lived trashy tree suitable for intentional plantings only on the worst of sites.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.