Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Tree-of-Heaven: Ailanthus altissima

Weed Description: A weedy tree that may reach 60 feet in height.  This tree has developed into a problem along roadsides, in rights-of-way, in urban areas, and even in certain agricultural fields.  Found throughout the United States.

Seedling: Trees can arise from seed or colonies of this tree are often found due to saplings arising from underground roots.  Seedlings resemble mature trees and have alternate and compound leaves.

Roots:  Underground roots may produce new saplings as far as 10 feet away from the central plant.

Leaves:  Individual leaves are arranged alternately along the stem and consist of 15-27 individual leaflets per leaf.  Leaflets are lanceolate in shape with entire margins except for 1-5 teeth near the base of each leaflet.  The foliage emits a distinctive, often considered unpleasant, odor.

Stems:  Woody, light brown to tan in color, and stout.

Flowers:  Produced in large terminal panicles.  Individual flowers are relatively inconspicuous and consist of 5 green petals that are approximately 1.5 to 2.5 mm long.

Fruit:  A winged samara that is approximately 1.5 inches long and contains only one seed.  Clusters of about 2 to 5 samaras occur at a time.

Identifying Characteristics:  Weedy, colonizing trees with alternate and compound leaves and foliage that emits an unpleasant odor.

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