tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Simaroubaceae, the quassia family
How to recognize tree of heaven. This fast-growing tre has alternately arranged pinnately compound leaves that are large, long, and adorned with a great many leaflets.
Tree-of heaven looks rather like black walnut. One clue you’ve got Ailanthus is visible at the bases of the leaflets, where there are, on each side, a gland-tipped tooth.
The fruits of tree of heaven are single-seeded winged affairs, called “samaras.”
In the winter. Tree of heaven twigs are stout, with a false terminal bud (note the tip scar). The leaf scars are large, alternately arranged, with about a dozen well-defined bundle scars within. Scratch and sniff: they have a rank arome that’s been likened to rancid peanut butter. Yuck!
Where to find tree of heaven. E. Lucy Braun, in The Woody Plants of Ohio (1961, 1989; The Ohio State University Press) tells us it is “commonly planted and spreading from root-shoots and seeds, now often naturalized.”