Ontario Trees & Shrubs website

Ailanthus
Ailanthus altissima

Other common names: Chinese Sumac, Tree of Heaven

Other scientific names: Ailanthus glandulosus, Ailanthus peregrina, Toxicodendron altissimum

French names: Ailante glanduleux

Family: Quassia Family (Simaroubaceae)

Group: Sumacs

Distinctive features: Tree; Large compound leaves with strong unpleaseant smell when crushed.

Similar species:
  •   Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) - leaves don't smell. Stems fuzzy.

  •   Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) - leaves smaller; resembles Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina).

  •   Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) - grows in wet areas.


Flowers: Summer

Leaves: Alternate, Compound, Entire;  Large. Strong unpleasant smell when crushed.

Habitat: Fields and Open Areas;  Along edges of city lots; by the sides of buildings.

Books: Trees in Canada: 232   

Native/Non-native: Non-native

Status: Common in cities.

Notes: Ailanthus can easily be mistaken for Sumac if one is not familiar with these trees. Also known as Tree Of Heaven, it is a native of Asia.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: altissima: tall


See Also:
  •   Ailanthus: Tree of Heaven and Brooklyn, from The Monday Garden, by Sue Sweeney
  •   Ailanthus & Staghorn Sumac, from The Monday Garden, by Sue Sweeney


Photographs: 34 photographs available, of which 11 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page
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Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

These trees seem to like to grow in urban areas, at the edges of parking lots and along buildings.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

It has a very long compound leaf, with many leaflets. When bruised the leaflets give off a disagreeable odour.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

The leaves can be very long.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

A closeup picture showing that the leaflets are not quite opposite to each other.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

Upperside of a leaf.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

Underside of the same leaf.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

This shows how the compound leaves are attached to the stem. This very closely resembles Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina).

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

A young tree.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

A young tree, unfurling new leaves.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

Bark and trunk.

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

The fruits. They are winged seeds.
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Range map for Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)