The Tree of Heaven (1)

The Tree of Heaven (1)

The Tree of Heaven or Ailanthus altissima was first introduced to the U.K, in 1751 (from China). It has been grown in gardens, parks and civic settings for many years being valued for its rapid growth, attractive foliage and colourful, winged fruits. It is a dioecious plant, that is, an individual plant either produces male or female flowers. In order to guarantee a good display of the fruits, you should ensure plants of both sexes are planted. It flowers and fruits well in hot summers.

However, some botanists are now concerned that with the change in our climate in recent times, the Ailanthus could become an invasive species. An example of an invasive species is Rhododendron ponticum – an ornamental flowering shrub. This shades out native species and causes problems in areas such as the Snowdonia National Park and the west coast of Scotland.The Plant Health Officer at Kew (Sara Redstone) has warned gardeners to be vigilant, removing self sown seedlings of Ailanthus before they become established. Problems with Ailanthus have already been reported in Hungary.

Ailanthus makes use of allelopathy. That is, it produces and releases into the ground chemicals that inhibit the germination and growth of other species. Ailanthus is tolerant of pollution, soil disturbance and is ‘at home’ in an urban environment. It may respond to cutting back by producing underground suckers that can damage pavements, drainage etc. The European Plant Protection Organisation has included Ailanthus in a list of plants that are a threat to plant health, environment and biodiversity in the EPPO region.


I agree with Nell, invasive, aggressive and makes the Sycamore at the bottom of my garden seem like a pussy cat.
The tree of heaven is rapid growing, and I too have suckers appearing all over my garden. Beside my new pond mould is one example. I’ve spotted 2 on my boundary , the other side from the neighbours garden where it originated.
She had 3 cut down a year ago, they were huge and very tall. The tree surgeon did not treat the stumps and so the tap roots are everywhere and it’s not far from my property. I’m obsessed , scouring my garden almost daily for new trees.
I’ work at an agricultural college and have spoken to Hortic team, the best advice is to spray SBK , brushwood killer on neat mixed with paraffin which helps stick to the plant..
Hope this helps others…..

Gillian Lincoln

30 August, 2017

We can see one of these from our bedroom window. It’s in an ordinary garden of a semi-detached house three houses away. It is around 60 or 70 feet high, the same height as the house. In a SW wind it swirls about like a live thing and it’s flowers are delightful. I love it!

Martin Corrick

8 June, 2017

I have become quite obsessed with this tree. I noticed a sapling which had grown to 15 ft / 3m in almost a year. I researched it – got rid and then noticed them everywhere. Larger trees in the area would send out seeds and suckers creating at least 15 more trees around them every year!!! We all became vigilant and spoke to the Council but I doubt anyone will really be able to control this tree. I’ve kept a record of when I’ve seen them. People leave them because of their beauty – often right next to thier houses- not realising that within 20 years it will be 80 ft high and a root system that’ll destroy and devalue thier house. It’s everywhere. It’s invasive. I’ve seen it growing inside another tree! Please anyone reading this – be vigilant too. Thank you.


3 July, 2016

[…] invasive plant causing problems in the UK is the tree of heaven. Originally brought over from its native habitat in China in the mid-1700s, it is now commonplace […]

The Tree of Heaven (known as the Ghetto Palm in the eastern US) is a sneaky tree – it suckers like anything and yet appears to have been planted. London is full of them: here’s a blog post about their habits in the city: http://thestreettree.com/2011/09/17/trees-of-heaven/

Paul Wood

30 September, 2011

for those having ‘problems’ / wanting further information – these might be an interesting read
http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/invasivetutorial/tree_of_heaven_M_C.htm and
http://www.paflora.org/Ailanthus%20altissima.PDF (may take a while to download)


1 June, 2011

I really don’t know what the fuss is about, we have a number of these trees in our garden – the house dates back to 1834 – I imagine the tree was introduced into our garden in Victorian times. In all the years we have lived with ours we have never noticed any smell coming from any part of the tree, nor have we noticed that they have any prohibitive effect on plants or trees growing round or under them.
Our biggest tree has an owl living in it. We have the good fortune of having a large garden, we certainly don’t see these trees as a threat, but a plant we are lucky to have and enjoy.

Sarah Wiggs

1 June, 2011

Our tree of heaven is fully grown. Just recently its branches have become brittle and three large ones have broken off. Can this be remedied or is it becoming a danger to nearby plants and a garden shed?

B Wilson

22 August, 2009

My Great Great Grandmother Planted the tree of heaven for which they knew it as the spring tree, in the Mohave Desert on April 30, 1863 next to there adobe and it is the only tree in the area today. The Chinese that gave them the seed said it would give them a place for all to gather which has been and is the truth today. In my oppinion the Tree of heaven is the tree to plant for the coming changes to our climate. Pogmatog Magot (Creator Knows), Kawaiisu Tribe

Can anyone suggest the best method of managing a tree of heaven or removing it

Dave Richards

29 June, 2009

thank-you very much. this has really helped me with my home-work


20 September, 2008

Tree of heaven

I have noticed that this tree seems to have several small flies that seem to hover around the trunk. Is there a smell to it because I have not noticed one myself.If so, do you reccommend anything to treat it.


29 June, 2008

Dig or pull up suckers as they appear and as much root as you can. You’ll have to persevere though – it’ll keep on putting up suckers as long as there’s a root system left. For grown trees, herbicides seem to be the only successful way to get rid of them.


16 June, 2008

how do i stop the suckers from sprouting up all over my garden. i unknowingly cut it back last year, does this mean that you can never cut it back? (tree of heaven)

stephen hayes

15 June, 2008

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