Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle

Tree of Heaven

J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 6: 495 (1916) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Erect, deciduous tree to c. 10 m high, often suckering and forming thickets. Leaves imparipinnate or paripinnate, c. oblong in outline, 20–80 cm long; petiolules 3–12 mm long; leaflets up to c. 20 pairs, subopposite, obliquely ovate or broad-lanceolate, 4–14 cm long, 2–5 cm long, base almost truncate, margin 1–few-toothed either side near base, each tooth gland-tipped, lower surface often glaucous, glabrous or with a few hairs around margin and near midvein. Calyx 1–1.5 mm long, broadly lobed to c. midway; petals 2–3 mm long, woolly toward base on inner surface and margins; nectary-disc glabrous; male flowers with stamens slightly exceeding petals, filaments pubescent toward base; pistillode rudimentary or absent; female flowers with staminodes c. half petal length; carpels 5, styles united, stigma 5-lobed. Samaras oblong-elliptic, 4–5 cm long, c. 1 cm wide, papery; seed c. central, lenticular, c. 4 mm diam. Flowers Nov.–Jan.

*CVU, *GipP, *Glep, *Gold, *HNF, *HSF, *MuF, *NIS, *Strz, *VRiv, *VVP. Also naturalised WA, SA, Qld, NSW, ACT. Native to eastern Asia. Scattered through the State; often persisting in and spreading from old farm sites, common along watercourses, particularly in north-eastern Victoria and Melbourne suburbs. Probably more widespread than records indicate. A declared noxious weed in Victoria (except in Melbourne metropolitan area).

The leaves and bark are used in traditional Chinese medicine, but may cause dermatitis in some people.

Source: Walsh, N.G. (1999). Simaroubaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 4, Cornaceae to Asteraceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2018-10-23
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Rosanae
order Sapindales
family Simaroubaceae
genus Ailanthus
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Ailanthus altissima in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Ailanthus altissima in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Glenelg Plain present introduced
Victorian Volcanic Plain present naturalised
Victorian Riverina present naturalised
Murray Fans present naturalised
Gippsland Plain present naturalised
Goldfields present naturalised
Central Victorian Uplands present naturalised
Northern Inland Slopes present naturalised
Highlands-Southern Fall present naturalised
Highlands-Northern Fall present naturalised
Strzelecki Ranges present naturalised

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory