Tree of heaven ( Ailanthus altissima)

The Ailanthus ( Ailanthus, Syn: Hebonga ) are a genus of flowering plants in the family of bitter ash plants ( Simaroubaceae ). The genus Ailanthus is represented by three to ten species in South and East Asia and northern Australia. The most well-known, often planted in central Europe is kind of tree of heaven ( Ailanthus altissima). Fossil finds there from the Tertiary of the Northern Hemisphere ( as the minimum age for the genus is the Early Eocene specified).


Ailanthus ( Ailanthus ) are large to small, deciduous trees. They are very undemanding and grow quickly. The change-constant leaves are relatively long, and pinnate with 13-41 leaflets. The more or less constant compared leaflets sometimes have at their base on some big teeth. Stipules absent.

They are dioecious getrenntgeschlechtig ( dioecious ). Are formed axillary inflorescences Rispige. There are the same number of cup - like petals present. The unisexual or hermaphrodite flowers are sometimes radial symmetry and usually five, rarely sechszählig. Male flowers contain ten, hermaphrodite only five to six fertile stamens, but then the rest of the number as staminodes. There are two to five free, upper continuous, flat carpels available with five chambers, each containing only one ovule. The two to five pens can be free or fused. The fruits are winged (Samara ).


The first publication of Ailanthus was made in 1786 by René Louiche Desfontaines in Mém. Acad. Sci. (Paris ), pp. 265

There are about ten Ailanthus species, six of which in China of which five are endemic:

  • Tree of heaven ( Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle, syn: A. cacodendron, A. glandulosa Desf, A. peregrina, Rhus cacodendron, Toxicodendron altissimum Mill. ): With four varieties: Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle var altissima
  • Ailanthus altissima var Pendulifolia
  • Ailanthus altissima var sutchuenensis ( Dode ) Rehder & EHWilson
  • Ailanthus altissima var tanakae ( Hayata ) Kanehira & Sasaki


The tree of heaven ( Ailanthus altissima) is one of the so-called garden refugees. It spreads rapidly and uncontrollably and displaces native trees and shrubs. Due to its robustness the ailanthus is to be found in some cities in green strip between traffic areas, however, many parts of the gods tree are poisonous. In particular, when removing and pruning precautions must be taken, since each contact may cause allergic reactions. As firewood, the wood of the gods tree is hardly suitable, since it shatters when burned with loud bangs.


  • Kamal A. Malik: Ailanthus in the Flora of Pakistan: Online. (English )