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Taxon  Report  
Ailanthus altissima  (Mill.) Swingle
Ailanthus,   Tree of heaven
Ailanthus altissima is a tree that is not native to California.
Cal-IPC rating: moderate
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Observation Search
~5399 records in California
redone or more occurrences
within a 7.5-minute quadrangle

Bloom Period
Genus: Ailanthus
Family: Simaroubaceae  
Category: angiosperm  
PLANTS group:Dicot
Jepson eFlora section: eudicot

Toxicity: Possible skin irritation from touching the leaf or flower of this plant.

Wetlands: Occurs usually in non wetlands, occasionally in wetlands

Habitat: disturbed

Communities: weed, characteristic of disturbed places

Name Status:
Accepted by JEF + PLANTS

Alternate Names:
PLANTSAilanthus glandulosa
PLANTSToxicodendron altissimum
Information about  Ailanthus altissima from other sources

Conservation New England: Ailanthus altissima is native to Asia, and began its journey west by being introduced to Europe in 1751 by a French Jesuit preist who brought it from Nanking, China to England. The first known specimen was brought into the United States a few decades later by William Hamilton, who planted this species in Philadelphia (Shah 1997). People admired the beautiful foliage of these fast-growing trees, and for over a century have been planting it as an ornamental ...

[www.invasive.org] Ecological Threat: Ecological Threat Ailanthus altissima forms dense, clonal thickets which displace native species and can rapidly invade fields, meadows, and harvested forests. This invasive tree species is extremely tolerant of poor soil conditions and can even grow in cement cracks. Ailanthus altissima is not shade tolerant, but easily invades disturbed forests or forest edges causing habitat damage. Introduced as an ornamental, it was widely planted in cities because of its ability to grow in poor conditions. Management and control efforts for this species continue across the United States at great economic cost. (link added by Mary Ann Machi)

[USDA FEIS] Introduction to California: Tree-of-heaven spread in North America apparently followed 3 introductions from China. It was 1st imported to Pennsylvania in 1784 as an ornamental. A 2nd introduction occurred in New York in 1820, where tree-of-heaven was again planted as an ornamental. Both eastern introductions were from English stock imported from China. Tree-of-heaven was commercially available in eastern nurseries by 1840. The 3rd introduction was in California during the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s. Chinese immigrating to work in the gold fields and in construction of the transcontinental railroad brought tree-of-heaven to California, probably because of the tree's medicinal and cultural importance in their homeland. (link added by Jessica Johnston)

Suggested Citation
Calflora: Information on California plants for education, research and conservation, with data contributed by public and private institutions and individuals. [web application]. 2024. Berkeley, California: The Calflora Database [a non-profit organization]. Available: https://www.calflora.org/   (Accessed: 07/19/2024).