Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle – Simaroubaceae – quassia family
Tree-of-Heaven is an extremely invasive and rapid-growing east Asian species that is becoming increasingly more common in disturbed areas in and around Albion. Fortunately it is not a common parkage tree.
Both tree-of-heaven and our native black walnut have large pinnately-compound leaves. Walnut leaves and young twigs have a spicy fragrance when crushed, while the leaves and young twigs of tree-of-heaven have a fragrance that reminds one of peanut butter. The bark and fruits of these species don’t resemble each other at all. Both trees produce compounds that inhibit the grown of other plant species around them.
This is the species featured in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the popular 1943 novel by Betty Smith.