Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle


Toxicodendron altissimum


Simaroubaceae (Quassia Family)




Tree of Heaven   

                                  August Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Tree 5-20 m. tall, polygamo-dioecious, and spreading freely underground; lvs. 3-6 dm. long, odd-pinnate; lfts. 13-25, lanceolate to oblong, acuminate, 7-18 cm. long, with 2-4 teeth near the base, each with a large gland on the lower surface; infl. 10-20 cm., in large terminal panicles; fls. small greenish, the staminate strong smelling; calyx of 5 imbricate segms.; petals 5, spreading; stamens 10, inserted at the base of the disk; ovary 2-5 cleft, with flat 1-celled divisions; samaras 3-5 cm. long, often +/- reddish.


Habitat:  Rather widely naturalized in cismontane Calif., especially about old dwelling sites; native of Asia.  Introduced in early mining days by the Chinese.  Blooms June-August.


Name:  Ailanto, a Moluccan name. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 829). Altissima, very tall, tallest.  (Bailey 10).  Molucca is an island group of E. Indonesia between New Guinea and Celebes. (American Heritage Dictionary, second college edition.  1986  p. 845).  The older name Toxicodendron altissimum, (Bailey 611), would indicate that the tree is poisonous, however there is no mention of this in any of the texts I have.  (my comment).


General:  Occasional at the upper end of Big Canyon where it joins Jamboree Rd.  (my comment).        This tree, which in some localities has become a pest, is introduced from China.  It is planted as an ornamental and shade tree, and has escaped from cultivation.  (Robbins et al. 291).        Grows quickly to 50 ft. under adverse conditions including drought, hot winds, extreme air pollution and every type of difficult soil.  (Sunset New Western Garden Book 1984 p.172).


Text Ref:  Bailey 611; Hickman, Ed. 1067; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 829.

Photo Ref:  Feb-April 91 # 18; July-Oct 91 #20; July-Sept 96 # 16,17.

Identity: by R. De Ruff.

First Found:  April 1991.


Computer Ref: Plant Data 418.

No plant specimen.

Last edit 11/8/04


                               September Photo                                                             September Photo