Ailanthus altissima, commonly known as the Tree of Heaven, is a deciduous tree native to China and Taiwan. It was introduced to Europe in the 1740s and to the United States in the late 1700s as an ornamental tree.
The Tree of Heaven can grow up to 80 feet tall and has a broad, spreading canopy. Its leaves are large, pinnately compound, and can have up to 41 leaflets. The tree produces small, yellow-green flowers in the summer, followed by clusters of winged seeds in the fall.
While the Tree of Heaven is considered invasive in many parts of the world, it is valued for its ability to grow quickly and tolerate poor soil conditions. The tree has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and is believed to have a variety of medicinal properties.
However, the Tree of Heaven is also known for its strong, unpleasant odor, particularly from its flowers, and can be a nuisance for those who are sensitive to it. Additionally, the tree can become weedy and compete with native plant species, leading to ecological problems in some areas.