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Friday, July 29, 2011

Invading your woodlands: Ailanthus Altissima

Ailanthus Altissima—Tree Of Heaven

Do you have this tree invading your woodlands?? Its’ resilience, that was featured in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” is the same characteristic that makes Ailanthus a threat to the biodiversity of forested lands throughout the country.

I.D tips:
Leaves: Leaflets have rounded teeth at the base, as show below.
Fruit: Large Clusters of winged samaras
Odor: Leaves and stems of plant have strong, unpleasant odor when crushed
Bark: Thin gray bark with diamond-shaped markings on younger trees and pale vertical lines on older trees, as shown below.

**Not to be confused with Rhus typhina or Rhus glabra—Staghorn Sumac and Smooth Sumac.  The sumac’s are similar in appearance but have a smooth gray bark with narrow horizontal markings.  They have no odor and the underside of their leaves tends to be whitish whereas the Ailanthus leaves will be a shade of green.

Control Methods:
The most effective and direct control method for ailanthus is to use an herbicide application injected into the bark during the summer months. NOTE THIS METHOD IS NOT VERY EFFECTIVE AT OTHER TIMES OF THE YEAR.  The most efficient way to do this is to use a cordless drill and drill a hole at a downward angle into the bark, use a mustard bottle that is full of a non-diluted glyphosate product and squeeze the glyphosate directly into the hole.  A trunk with a larger diameter may require multiple holes.  
Ailanthus is a quickly growing tree that will rapidly out-compete native trees in a woodland setting.  There have been studies that have shown that Ailanthus is allelopathic (releases chemicals into the soil that inhibits the growth of other plants).  Removal of this tree from your woodlands will help to ensure diversity in your woodlands.

For more answers regarding any invasive plant or any general stewardship question on your property, Landscape Visionaries is happy to help.  Contact us at 610-347-0347 or

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