Invasive Plants Series: Tree-of-Heaven

I generally try to cover invasive plants that are actually for sale in garden centers or widely shared amongst friends and family, but this one is becoming such a problem we should all be aware of it.


I hope Tree-of-Heaven (Alianthus altissima) is not something you have intentionally planted in your landscape. It may, however, have found its way in and popped up as a sapling.



Tree-of-Heaven is a horrible invasive plant from China that was once sold as an ornamental. It is a host plant for the Spotted Lanternfly, so please remove every single one you find. This tree is found growing wild in almost every US state. It can tolerate a wide range of inhospitable conditions, produces chemicals to prevent the growth of other plants, and displaces natives.


This guy is easily confused with our native sumac or black walnut seedlings. The easiest way to know if the plant is Tree-of-Heaven is to crush the leaves and take a sniff. If it smells like rancid peanut butter, it's Tree-of-Heaven! One tree can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds.


If you simply cut it back, it will send up dozens of root suckers, making the problem worse. The most effective removal method is herbicide application after July 1st but before the leaves turn color in the fall.


Additional information can be found on the DCNR Invasive Plant Fact sheet (link in bio).


Sources: DCNR, Invasive Plant Atlas

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