Tree of Heaven

Scientific name: Ailanthus altissima

Fact Box:

  • Order: Sapindales
  • Family: Simaroubaceae
  • Genus: Ailanthus
  • Species: A. altissima


Contrary to its lovely name, the Tree of Heaven is an invasive and destructive plant. Native to Asia, this deciduous tree has very long pinnate leaves, each with dozens of leaflets. Tree of Heaven is also dioecious, meaning each tree only has either male or female parts. Female trees produce pale yellow flowers and later, clusters of winged seeds.


The Tree of Heaven has many invasive properties. It grows quickly in a variety of conditions, produces an enormous amount of pollen and seeds that spread easily, and has an extensive root system that can damage sewage pipes and underground infrastructure. Furthermore, the plant emits a strong stench, as well as toxins that stop the growth of other plants.


Despite these unpleasant qualities, Tree of Heaven has been used to cure many diseases, such as diarrhea and asthma. It may also alleviate fever and kill parasites, but there has not been sufficient scientific research about the Tree of Heaven’s medicinal properties to prove its efficacy.