Invasive Species — Tree of Heaven

By Contributor
August 24th, 2021

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is a native from central China, and was introduced to North America as an ornamental.

This invasive tree is a growing concern in the Kootenay-Boundary region as its roots can damage asphalt and foundations. Tree of Heaven spreads by both roots and seeds, and can produce 325,000 seeds per year. Its bark has a smooth, pale grey look, while its leaves are large and compound with 10-41 smaller leaflets.

The tree has glands that produce a smell like rancid peanut butter. There are male and female tree that both produce flowers, but only the females produce seeds. Tree of Heaven is easier to manually treat when they are saplings as they can pulled out quite easily.

However, it is important that all of the roots are removed, or it will come back. If the main trunk is only cut down, the following spring will produce suckers and regrowth from the stump.

The most efficient way to remove the Tree of Heaven is to use herbicide, as there are currently no biocontrol options available at this time. Please do not share this tree with friends or neighbours! When choosing trees, shrubs, and plants for planting, it is best to use native species.

Native plants and trees are more valuable to animals, birds, and insects that have been climatized to the native species. Native plants generally require less water than ornamentals, so both time and water is saved as the natives require less maintenance.

A local nursery may be able to provide more information on what native species best suits the local environment. Another resource for native and non-invasive ornamentals is www.beplantwise.ca.

For more information, please contact the Boundary Invasive Species Society at 250-446-2232, info@boundaryinvasives.com, www.boundaryinvasives.com, and on Facebook.


Categories: General