Ailanthus altissima


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Family: Simarubaceae









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The genus Ailanthus contains about 10 species, native to Asia and northern Australia. It was introduced into England from China in the mid-18th century as an ornamental. It was subsequently introduced from England to the United States in 1874. The word ailanthus is from the Moluccan name aylanto, meaning tree-of-heaven and referring to the height of the tree. The word altissima means very tall.

Ailanthus altissima-Ailante, ailanthus, ailanto, ailantus, albero del paradiso, arbol el cielo, a tree grows in Brooklyn, Chinese tree-of-heaven, Chinese sumac, copal tree, falso zumaque, gotterbaum, gudstrad, heavenwood, hemelboom, paradise tree, piede di cavallo, stinking chun.


Native to northern China, the tree was introduced in the 19th century throughout eastern United States (Missouri to Pennsylvania) and the south to California.


The Tree

Ailanthus grows rapidly, even in poor soils or environments. It grows to 80 ft (24 m), with a diameter of 2 ft (0.6 m). It is a pioneer species, crowding out other tree species. The leaves and flowers have a foul odor.


The Wood


Heartwood is pale green to yellow with dark streaks, while the sapwood is wide and cream color. It is ring-porous with wide rays, superficially resembling ash.

Mechanical Properties (2-inch standard)













x106 lbf/in2




























aWML = Work to maximum load.

Reference (65).

Drying and Shrinkage: Volumetric shrinkage is 10.81% from green (65).

Kiln Drying Schedules: No information available at this time.

Working Properties: Easily worked with tools and glues; takes a finish well.

Durability: Resistant to insects

Preservation: No information available at this time.

Uses: Ornamental tree (shade, screen, water edge, erosion control), fuel, home crafts, turnery, pulp.

Toxicity: Pruning may cause vesicular eruptions (105).


Additional Reading and References Cited (in parentheses)

1.?Anon. 1924. Paper pulp from ailanthus. Australian Forestry Journal. 7(5): 124.

2.?Anon. 1935. A much maligned tree? The tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissima. Missouri Botanical Garden Bulletin. 23(8): 130-133.

3.?Bailey, L.H. 1939. Cyclopedia of horticulture. New York: MacMillan Co.

15.?Chalk, L.; Chattaway, M.M. 1935. Factors affecting dimensional variations of vessel members. Tropical Woods. 41:19.

17.?Chun, W.Y. 1921. Chinese economic trees. Shanghai, China: College of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Nanking.

22.?Davies, P.A. 1937. Leaf arrangements in Ailanthus altissima. American Journal of Botany. 24(7): 401-407.

23.?Davies, P.A. 1941. The history, distribution and value of Ailanthus in North America. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science. 9(1): 12-14.

26.?del Lungo, A. 1952. [Ailanthus, a cellulose plant.] in Italian. Terra e Sole.
12(2): 345-349.

28.?Durbin, M.G. 1928. The back yard tree, the Ailanthus, oriental "tree of heaven." American Forests and Forest Life. 34(413): 295-297.

29.?Elias, T.S. 1980. The complete trees of North America, field guide and natural history. New York: van Nostrand Reinhold Company.

42.?Howard, A.L. 1948. A manual of the timbers of the world. 3rd ed. London:

43.?Illick, J.S.; Brouse, E.F. 1926. The Ailanthus tree. Bulletin 38. PA: Department of Forests and Waters.

44.?Jane, F.W. 1952. The structure of timbers of the world. Three homegrown hardwoods. United Kingdom: Timber News. 60(2157): 332-334.

48. ?Keefe, J. 1953. The tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima). Missouri Conservation.
14(2): 10.

50. ?Kernan, H.S. 1953. Planting fuel in Iran. Land. 11(1): 313-316.

55. ?Little, Jr., E.L. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. U.S. Government Printing Office.

56. ?Maino, E.; Howard, F. 1962. Ornamental trees. An illustrated guide to their selection and care. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

65. Moslemi, A.A.; Bhagwat, S.G. 1970. Physical and mechanical properties of the wood of tree-of-heaven. Wood and Fiber. 1(4): 319—323.

68. Panshin, A.J.; de Zeeuw, C. 1980. Textbook of wood technology, 4th ed. New York: McGraw—Hill Book Co..

72. Rastogi, R.P.; Sharma, V.N.; Dhar, M.L. 1952. Chemical examination of Ailanthus malabarica DC. Journal of Science, Industry, and Research. 11B(3): 124—125.

73. Rawling, F.G.; Staidl, J.A. 1924. Pulping value of Ailanthus. Mimeographed report. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products

74. Record, S.J.; Hess R.W. 1943. Timbers of the new world. New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press.

79. Sargent, C.S. 1905. Manual of the trees of North America. New York: Houghton,
Mifflin and Co.

92. Taylor, W.M. 1919. Pulp from 3-year rotation. New Zealand Journal of Agriculture.
18: 223.

97. U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1949. Trees–The yearbook of agriculture. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

102. Webber, I.E. 1936. Systematic anatomy of the woods of the Simarubaceae. American Journal of Botany. 23(9): 577—587.

105. Woods, B.; Calnan, C.D. 1976. Toxic woods. British Journal of Dermatology.
95(13): 1—97.