Tree of heaven Ailanthus altissima

Status Non-native, invasive
Best Time to See

A non-native invasive plant.

This deciduous tree, originally from China, is very widely planted – in gardens, streets, parks and public spaces. As well as getting into the wild by seed dispersal from growing trees, it is also spread by the dumping of excess material.

What's the problem?

It suckers very readily, spreading to form dense thickets. This plant is known to prevent other vegetation growing in the surrounding area by releasing toxic compounds into the soil. Attempts to control it by cutting result in more vigorous growth. In parts of Europe it’s a serious problem but is not yet spreading into sites of botanical interest here. In some countries where it’s a noxious weed it’s sometimes called the 'Tree of hell'.

Rapid Risk Assessment

***** Critical Risk

Plantlife's position

Plantlife believes this species should be listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales.