Tree-of-Heaven

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.