Global invasive species database

  • General
  • Distribution
  • Impact
  • Management
  • Bibliography
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  • Foliage (Photo: Chuck Bargeron, The University of Georgia, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Seeds (Photo: Chuck Bargeron, The University of Georgia, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Tree (Photo: Chuck Bargeron, The University of Georgia, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Foliage (Photo: David J. Moorhead, The University of Georgia, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Saplings growing in recently cut-over area (Photo:Chris Evans, The University of Georgia, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Glandular notch at the base of the leaflets (Photo:Chris Evans, The University of Georgia, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Foliage (Photo: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Tree (Photo: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Infestation along roadside (Photo: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, www.forestryimages.org)
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Common name
Chinese sumac (English), tree-of-heaven (English, USA), stinking shumac (English)
Synonym
Similar species
Carya illinoinensis, Rhus typhina, Juglans nigra
Summary
Ailanthus altissima is a very aggressive plant, a prolific seed producer (up to 350,000 seeds in a year), grows rapidly, and can overrun native vegetation. It also produces toxins that prevent the establishment of other plant species. The root system is aggressive enough to cause damage to sewers and foundations.
Species Description
Ailanthus altissima is a small to medium-sized tree of the mostly tropical Quassia family. It has a smooth, grey bark with compound leaves which are alternate, odd-pinnate, with 11-25 lanceolate leaflets. Most leaflets have one to three coarse teeth near their base. Mature trees can reach 24 metres or more in height. Flowers occur in panicles at the ends of branches and the male flowers produce a strong odour, described as the smell of burnt peanut butter. The leaves, when crushed, also produce a distinctive odour. Seeds are centred in a papery sheath called a samara. The samaras are slightly twisted or curled and twirl as they fall to the ground. The wood of Ailanthus altissima is soft, weak, coarse-grained, and creamy white to light brown in colour.
Notes
Male flowers are conspicuous and ill smelling, attracting many insects. Female flowers are less odorous and less conspicuous.
Lifecycle Stages
Established trees produce numerous suckers from the roots and sprout vigorously from cut stumps and root fragments. Seedlings establish a taproot three months after germination. A. altissima probably lives for no more than 100 years in North America (usually less) but the root system and its sprouts can persist for a longer time.
Uses
The wood is often used in China for lumber, fuelwood and other products. In the U.S. it is occasionally used for low-grade lumber, pulpwood and fuelwood. The toxin produced in the bark and leaves of A. altissima is being studied as a possible source for a natural herbicide. It is used in traditional herbal medicine in China.
Habitat Description
Ailanthus altissima establishes itself readily on disturbed sites, such as railroad embankments, highway medians, fencerows, and roadsides. In naturally forested areas, A. altissima may become established in areas disturbed by storms or infestations. A. altissima has the ability to grow in poor soils and under stressful environmental conditions. It grows in full sun and thrives in poor growing conditions. Germination rates are high, provided soil has adequate moisture. It is well adapted to heavy clays and other soils with low nutrient and oxygen content.
Reproduction
Ailanthus altissima reproduces both sexually (seeds) and asexually (vegetative sprouts). Flowering occurs late in the spring (June in the middle Atlantic region of eastern United States). The species is dioecious (trees have either male or female flowers). A single tree can produce around 325,000 to 350,000 seeds a year. Trees grow quickly, as stump sprouts grow up to 3cm per day.
Nutrition
Ailanthus altissima is well adapted to heavy clays and other soils with few nutrients.
Pathway
Was commonly available from nurseries by 1840

Principal source:

Compiler: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)

Review: Phil Pannill, Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources - Forest Service.

Publication date: 2005-11-28

Recommended citation: Global Invasive Species Database (2016) Species profile: Ailanthus altissima. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=319 on 23-07-2016.

General Impacts
All over the United States, Ailanthus altissima has become a pest of agricultural, urban and forested areas. Seedlings and root suckers of A. altissima grow rapidly and spread prolifically and thus quickly out-compete many native species for sunlight and space. It also produces a toxin in its bark and leaves. As it accumulates in the soil, the toxin inhibits the growth of other plants. The root system is capable of damaging sewers and foundations.
Management Info
Preventative measures: A Risk assessment of Ailanthus altissima for Australia was prepared by Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) using the Australian risk assessment system (Pheloung, 1995). The result is a score of 12 and a recommendation of: reject the plant for import (Australia) or species likely to be a pest (Pacific).
Countries (or multi-country features) with distribution records for Ailanthus altissima
NATIVE RANGE
  • australia
  • china
Informations on Ailanthus altissima has been recorded for the following locations. Click on the name for additional informations.
Lorem Ipsum
Location Status Invasiveness Occurrence Source
Details of Ailanthus altissima in information
Status
Invasiveness
Arrival date
Occurrence
Source
Introduction
Species notes for this location
Location note
Management notes for this location
Impact
Mechanism:
Outcome:
Ecosystem services:
Impact information
All over the United States, Ailanthus altissima has become a pest of agricultural, urban and forested areas. Seedlings and root suckers of A. altissima grow rapidly and spread prolifically and thus quickly out-compete many native species for sunlight and space. It also produces a toxin in its bark and leaves. As it accumulates in the soil, the toxin inhibits the growth of other plants. The root system is capable of damaging sewers and foundations.
Red List assessed species 3: EN = 1; VU = 1; LC = 1;
View more species View less species
Outcomes
[37] Environmental Ecosystem - Habitat
  • [37] Reduction in native biodiversity
[148] Socio-Economic
  • [37] Damage to agriculture
  • [37] Human health
  • [37] Human nuisance 
  • [37] Damage to infrastructures
Management information
Preventative measures: A Risk assessment of Ailanthus altissima for Australia was prepared by Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) using the Australian risk assessment system (Pheloung, 1995). The result is a score of 12 and a recommendation of: reject the plant for import (Australia) or species likely to be a pest (Pacific).
Locations
Management Category
Bibliography
8 references found for Ailanthus altissima

Managment information
AME, 2004 Agence M�diterran�enne de l Environnement. Plantes Envahissantes de la Region Mediterraneenne. Ailanthus altissima
European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), 2005. Reporting Service 2005, No. 9.
Summary: The EPPO Reporting Service is a monthly information report on events of phytosanitary concern. It focuses on new geographical records, new host plants, new pests (including invasive alien plants), pests to be added to the EPPO Alert List, detection and identification methods etc. The EPPO Reporting Service is published in English and French.
Available from: http://archives.eppo.org/EPPOReporting/2005/Rse-0509.pdf [Accessed 28 November 2005]
Hoshovsky, M. 1986. TNC Element Stewardship Abstract: Ailanthus altissima and Ailanthus glandulosa. San Francisco: The Nature Conservancy.
Summary: Report on description, habitat, distribution, threats and control.
Hu, S. 1979. Ailanthus. Arnoldia. 39(2):29-50.
Summary: Report on description, habitat, distribution, threats and control.
Swearingen, J. M. and P. Pannill. 1999. Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). Washington, DC: National Park Service, Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group.
Summary: Report on description, ecological threat, current management approaches, distribution and habitat in the United States, background.
Varnham, K. 2006. Non-native species in UK Overseas Territories: a review. JNCC Report 372. Peterborough: United Kingdom.
Summary: This database compiles information on alien species from British Overseas Territories.
Available from: http://www.jncc.gov.uk/page-3660 [Accessed 10 November 2009]
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Native Plant Society. 1999. Ailanthus altissima (Miller) Swingle
Summary: Report on description, habitat, distribution, threats and control.
General information
ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), 2004. Online Database Ailanthus altissima
Summary: An online database that provides taxonomic information, common names, synonyms and geographical jurisdiction of a species. In addition links are provided to retrieve biological records and collection information from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Data Portal and bioscience articles from BioOne journals.
Available from: http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=28827 [Accessed December 31 2004]
Contact
The following 1 contacts offer information an advice on Ailanthus altissima
Gover,
Art
Organization:
PENNDOT Roadside Vegetation Management Project
Email:
Address:
Department of Horticulture
The Pennsylvania State University
Phone:
(814) 863-1184
Fax:
(814) 863-1184