About This Plant

The Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is characterized by its light grey to pale brown bark that becomes somewhat furrowed and ridged as the tree matures. The bark can develop a somewhat scaly texture with age. In younger specimens, the bark is relatively smooth. As for height, the Tree of Heaven is known for its rapid growth and can reach towering heights and the tree itself is considered invasive in some regions. In favourable conditions, it may attain a height of 50 to 80 feet (15 to 24 meters) or even more. The tree has a distinctive appearance, with a straight trunk and a relatively open, spreading crown.

The Story

Leaf

The leaves of the Tree of Heaven are compound and large, typically measuring between 1 to 3 feet in length. Each leaf consists of 11 to 25 smaller leaflets arranged alternately on a central stalk. The leaflets are lance-shaped, with serrated edges, and they have a pinnate venation pattern. The colour of the leaflets is bright green, and the arrangement provides the tree with a somewhat tropical appearance.

Produce

The Tree of Heaven produces panicles of small, yellowish-green flowers. These flowers are arranged in large clusters, known as panicles, and they have a somewhat unpleasant odour. After flowering, the Tree of Heaven forms winged seeds, also known as samaras or keys. These seeds are typically paired and have a papery wing that allows them to be dispersed by the wind. The seeds are often light brown and are noticeable in late summer and early fall.
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