Scientific NameAilanthus altissima
Other Common Names:
Synonyms (former Scientific Names):
Seeds germinate and dormant branches produce foliage in spring. Plants grow vigorously during summer and produce flowers in late summer to early fall before going dormant for winter.
Individual leaves are arranged alternately along the stem and consist of 15-27 individual leaflets per leaf. Leaflets are lanceolate in shape with entire margins except for 1-5 teeth near the base of each leaflet. The foliage emits a distinctive, often considered unpleasant, odor. Leaves typically lack hairs.
Weedy, colonizing trees with alternate and compound leaves and foliage that emits an unpleasant odor.
Flower Seed Head
Produced in large terminal panicles. Individual flowers are relatively inconspicuous and consist of 5 green petals that are approximately 1.5 to 2.5 mm long.
Woody, light brown to tan in color, and stout. A winged samara that is approximately 1.5 inches long and contains only one seed. Clusters of about 2 to 5 samaras occur at a time.
This tree has developed into a problem along roadsides, in rights-of-way, in urban areas, and even in certain agricultural fields. Found throughout the United States. This invasive species has infested much of Virginia's roadsides crowding out native tree species.
woody bush or tree
Thorns or Spines
Approximate Flower Diameter
Dominant Flower Color
shorter than leaf
Stem Cross Section
round or oval