How to get rid of tree of heaven

The Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is considered an invasive species in New York and many other parts of North America. It is native to China and was introduced to the United States in the late 1700s as an ornamental tree. The Tree of Heaven is known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, including urban areas, disturbed sites, and poor soils. It grows quickly and produces a large number of seeds that can be dispersed by wind, water, and human activities. This prolific seed production and rapid growth contribute to its invasive nature, as it can form dense stands that outcompete native vegetation.

In regions like New York, there are ongoing endeavors to regulate and oversee the populations of the Tree of Heaven in order to safeguard native ecosystems. Nevertheless, eradicating this species can be a difficult undertaking due to its remarkable ability to withstand adverse conditions and adapt. Various control methods are employed, including cutting down trees, applying herbicides, and preventing the dispersal of seeds. It is crucial to establish an effective management strategy that acknowledges the invasive characteristics of the Tree of Heaven and its potential consequences for local biodiversity.

Knowing how to get rid of tree of heaven, an invasive species, is crucial for maintaining the health and beauty of your landscape. This fast-growing tree can quickly take over green spaces if not properly managed.

This post provides comprehensive strategies on how to effectively deal with this invasive plant. We’ll guide you through identification methods, removal techniques, as well as non-invasive alternatives you can consider planting instead.

With these tips at hand, getting rid of the Tree of Heaven will become a manageable task. Remember that early detection and prompt action are key in controlling any invasive species like this one.


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The Tree of Heaven: An Invasive Threat

Originating from China, the invasive species known as Ailanthus altissima, or commonly referred to as the tree of heaven, has established its presence in over 30 US states. Its rapid growth rate is alarming, with an ability to shoot up between 10 and 15 feet within a single year.

This aggressive invader does not stop at just fast-paced growth. The female trees are prolific seed producers, capable of generating upwards of 300,000 seeds annually. These small seedlings easily spread via wind or water currents, contributing significantly to this tree’s wide distribution.

In addition to these attributes that favor their quick proliferation, there is another hidden weapon in the tree of heaven’s arsenal – allelopathic chemicals released by leaves, roots, and bark into the surrounding soil, which stifle the development of other plants.

Similar Trees To Watch Out For

Misidentification can be your biggest hurdle when trying to control or eradicate this invasive species. It’s crucial, therefore, to distinguish it correctly from similar-looking native trees like sumac, black walnut trees (Juglans nigra), ash trees (Fraxinus spp.), katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), white mulberry trees (Morus alba), and river birch with its variety comprising thirteen different types – all play vital roles within local ecosystems unlike our disruptive guest.

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Identifying the Tree of Heaven

The process to correctly identify a tree, such as Ailanthus altissima or commonly known as the Tree of Heaven, is crucial for its proper management. This invasive species can be recognized by several unique features, including its smooth and light gray bark in early stages, which transforms into deeply fissured bark with age.

This tree of heaven boasts large pinnate leaves housing 11 to 41 lance-shaped leaflets that have coarse teeth near their base. An identifying gland on each leaflet’s underside further aids in distinguishing this species from others. During the summer months, these trees produce foul-smelling flowers reminiscent of burnt peanuts or stale cashews, an odor that is hard to ignore once encountered.

Intriguingly enough, this tree exhibits allelopathy, where it releases chemicals from parts like roots, leaves, and bark into the surrounding soil, hampering growth nearby, a trait detrimental to the health of local ecosystems.

Similar Trees to Watch Out For

Misidentification remains a common issue when dealing with native trees that look similar, such as black walnut trees (Juglans nigra), ash trees (Fraxinus spp.), katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), white mulberry trees (Morus alba), and river birch trees encompassing around 13 different Betula genus species, each bearing certain resemblances, whether it’s in terms of structure or height range compared to young tree of heaven seedlings.

The black walnut, in particular, might seem similar due to its fewer yet similarly compound leaves; however, unlike the latter, they lack glands underneath. Ash trees could also appear the same, but an opposite branching pattern sets them apart from the alternate arrangement seen within ailanthus altissima.

Such misidentifications not only obstruct effective control strategies against invasive spreaders like the tree of heaven, but they also pose unnecessary removal risks, endangering our beneficial flora. Hence, understanding the key differences between these look-alikes.

Key Takeaway: 


Proper identification of the Tree of Heaven is crucial for its management. Look out for unique features like large pinnate leaves, a distinctive odor, and an allelopathic nature. Beware of similar-looking trees such as black walnut or ash trees to avoid unnecessary removal risks.

Understanding the Impact of Tree of Heaven’s Invasiveness

The invasive nature of Ailanthus altissima, or the Tree of Heaven, poses a significant threat to native ecosystems. This tree species grows and reproduces rapidly, aggressively competing for resources with other trees in its vicinity.

Apart from fighting for sunlight and soil nutrients, the invasiveness of the Tree of Heaven extends further by releasing allelopathic chemicals through its bark, leaves, and roots. These chemicals inhibit the growth rates of surrounding plants, giving the Tree of Heaven an unfair advantage over native counterparts such as spruce, black walnut, or jacaranda trees.

This aggressive competitor doesn’t stop at resource acquisition but also disrupts local biodiversity by creating monocultures, areas dominated by a single plant type, and displacing diverse flora communities. It alters habitat structures that many wildlife species rely on for shelter and food sources.

Effects on Native Trees

Invasive practices like these have been found to significantly impact our native trees. Reports indicate a decline in ash tree populations where Ailanthus altissima has established itself dominantly due to the slow-growing nature of ash trees compared to the fast-spreading Tree of Heaven. Similar impacts are seen among river birch species and white mulberry trees, which struggle against this fierce competition.

Economic Implications

Beyond environmental concerns, there are also economic implications. The presence of the Tree of Heaven leads to increased costs associated with land management efforts aimed at controlling its spread or removing mature specimens entirely from affected areas. Estimates suggest that millions are spent annually nationwide to deal with the direct and indirect management of this pestiferous plant invasion. These financial burdens fall upon private landowners and public agencies tasked with maintaining parks and forests free from harmful intruders like Ailanthus altissima. The long-term sustainability of these landscapes largely depends on the successful implementation of timely control measures before irreversible damage occurs.

As part of Owens Brothers Tree Service commitment, we always strive to minimize the impact on surroundings during any removal process, whether addressing individual seedlings or large infestations.

Key Takeaway: 


The Tree of Heaven’s aggressive growth and chemical warfare tactics pose a severe threat to native ecosystems, causing declines in other tree species and disrupting local biodiversity. Beyond the environmental damage, it also brings hefty economic burdens for land management efforts.

Methods to Remove Tree of Heaven

The process of removing the invasive Ailanthus altissima, or Tree of Heaven, is a complex task that requires strategic planning and execution. This species has developed resilience mechanisms allowing it to regenerate from even small root fragments left in the soil.

For small seedlings, manual removal can be an effective strategy. It’s crucial to extract all roots completely and dispose of them appropriately as they have the potential for regrowth if not handled correctly.

In the case of larger trees, one must resort to more tactical methods like the cut-and-treat approach.. Here, you first chop down the tree close to its base, then promptly apply glyphosate-based herbicides on the stump surface for the best results.

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Dealing with Root Suckers

A common characteristic observed, particularly in female trees, is their propensity towards producing abundant root suckers post-cutting. These newly sprouted trees may rapidly form dense thickets, making control measures necessary without delay.

To effectively manage these emerging suckers, application of direct herbicide onto leaves or stems using a spray bottle or paintbrush proves beneficial. Always adhere strictly to label instructions when handling chemical products, ensuring safety and efficacy are maintained throughout this tree control exercise.

Post-Removal Care

Your responsibility doesn’t end once you successfully remove the tree; diligent follow-up actions play a key role too.

If your removed specimen stops showing signs of life – congratulations. But vigilance remains critical here because Ailanthus altissima is known to make comeback attempts through residual roots and seeds lying hidden within soil crevices.

Regularly monitor the property for any new growth around old stumps and surrounding areas where seeds might spread from previous seasons. Treat the stump again with suitable herbicides until there is no sign whatsoever suggesting a possible revival of this stubborn invader.

Key Takeaway: 

Battling the invasive Tree of Heaven requires strategic removal and vigilant post-care. Extract seedlings entirely, cut-and-treat larger trees with herbicides, manage root suckers promptly and monitor for regrowth regularly to ensure this stubborn squatter doesn’t stage a comeback.

Non-Invasive Alternatives to Plant Instead

The battle against invasive species like the tree of heaven or poison hemlock doesn’t end once you’ve managed to remove these nuisances from your yard. Leaving a void could simply invite another invasion, as such aggressive plants are adept at exploiting disturbed areas. The solution? Replanting with native trees not only helps keep invasives at bay but also bolsters local biodiversity and creates a sanctuary for wildlife.

A standout choice is certainly the black walnut tree (Juglans nigra). This towering native specimen boasts textured bark and an expansive canopy that provides ample shade during hot summers. Although some may consider the fruits dropped by black walnuts somewhat messy, they serve as delectable treats for squirrels and other backyard fauna.

An equally impressive alternative is ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). Their attractive silhouette, coupled with compound leaves that turn into vibrant hues come fall season, make them an aesthetic addition to any landscape while providing sustenance for caterpillars, which in turn feed birds.

Selecting Suitable Non-Invasive Trees

Picking out suitable replacements involves more than just personal preference; factors like soil type, light conditions, and available space play pivotal roles too. For those who prefer flowering specimens without having to worry about their potential invasiveness akin to ailanthus altissima or jacaranda tree, 11 species might find dogwoods fitting alternatives – their springtime white flowers followed by autumnal red berries are surefire bird attractants.

Caring For Your New Additions

After deciding on what non-invasives should replace removed ones, it’s crucial to ensure they get off on the right foot through proper care. This includes regular watering until established, protection of young trunks from deer damage if necessary, mulching around the base to avoid touching the trunk itself, practicing moisture conservation, preventing weed competition, and keeping lawn mowers at a safe distance. All these vital steps ensure the survival and success of newly planted saplings.

Key Takeaway: 


Don’t just evict invasive plants like the tree of heaven, replace them with native species to prevent a repeat invasion. Consider black walnut or ash trees for their beauty and wildlife benefits. Remember, choosing replacements isn’t purely aesthetic; consider soil type, light conditions, and space too. Once planted, nurture your new additions with proper care.

When to Call Professional Tree Service

The process of removing a tree, particularly an invasive species like the Ailanthus altissima or tree of heaven, can be both challenging and hazardous. While you may handle small seedlings on your own, larger trees or widespread infestations necessitate professional assistance.

A distinctive feature of the tree of heaven is its fast growth rate and tenacity. It’s difficult to completely remove this resilient invader without leaving behind root suckers that rapidly develop into new trees. Therefore, when faced with mature specimens or extensive invasions in your yard, it becomes prudent to engage professionals who specialize in controlling such pervasive threats.

Determining When Expert Help Is Required

If any of these situations apply to you, consider reaching out for professional help:

  • You have several fully-grown trees of heaven on your property that need removal.
  • Your attempts at manual removal haven’t been successful as the tree continues regrowing from residual roots.
  • The location where the tree of heaven stands poses potential risks during extraction (for instance, near power lines or structures).

In scenarios like these, our skilled team could offer effective solutions while ensuring safety protocols are strictly adhered to throughout operations.


get rid of tree of heaven


NYC or Bronx Call 718-885-0914 For a Free Arborist Consultation

Advantages of Engaging Professionals

Hiring expert services offers multiple benefits:

  • Safety: Removing large trees involves considerable risk, which trained experts mitigate using proper equipment and expertise.
  • Efficacy: Professionals understand how different species react to various treatment methods, thus increasing chances for successful eradication.

Making the Right Decision for Your Property

If there’s uncertainty about whether your situation requires professional intervention, don’t hesitate. Reach out; we’ll assist in accurately assessing needs so informed decisions regarding managing this invasive threat can be made confidently.

Key Takeaway: 


Getting rid of the fast-growing, tenacious tree of heaven can be a tough nut to crack. If you’re wrestling with mature trees or widespread invasions, it’s time to call in the pros. They’ll tackle this pesky problem safely and effectively, leaving your yard free from these invasive intruders.

The Long-Term Fight Against Invasive Species

Just as severe weather can cause significant damage to property, invasive species like the Tree of Heaven pose a similar threat to our native ecosystems. These aggressive invaders don’t just settle in; they dominate, growing at an alarming rate and outcompeting local flora for resources. The fight against these intruders is not a one-time effort but rather requires ongoing vigilance and proactive measures.

In many instances, recognizing the signs of invasiveness may not be obvious without proper knowledge or training. This makes it crucial that we educate ourselves about such harmful organisms so we can identify them early on before they establish themselves firmly in our surroundings.

Community Involvement: A Key Component

Much like how arborists are essential for identifying potential hazards during pre-storm strategies, community involvement plays a vital role in controlling tree invasions across various states in the US. By reporting sightings of possible invaders, including black walnut trees or other similar plants, through appropriate channels, it helps authorities take timely action.

Beyond reporting findings, individuals also need to make sure their actions aren’t inadvertently contributing to the problem by planting non-native varieties within their properties, which could potentially become future threats if left unchecked.

Taking Preventive Measures

While reactive measures like removing newly sprouted trees from root suckers after cutting down female trees are necessary when dealing with established infestations of invasive species such as small seedlings of the Tree of Heaven or poison hemlock, preventive steps hold equal importance too.

The process doesn’t end once you remove the tree either – monitoring post-removal care becomes critical because even after initial removal operations have been carried out successfully, there’s always a risk of resurgence from any leftover root parts.

Key Takeaway: 


Keeping invasive species like the Tree of Heaven at bay is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires knowledge to spot them early, community involvement for timely reporting and action, as well as ongoing vigilance even after removal. Remember – prevention is just as crucial as cure.


NYC or Bronx Call 718-885-0914 For a Free Arborist Consultation

Getting rid of the Tree of Heaven isn’t a walk in the park. But with proper knowledge and strategies, it’s doable.

You’ve learned how to identify this invasive species by its distinct features. You’re now aware that it can easily be mistaken for native trees like sumac or black walnut.

The impact of its invasiveness on local ecosystems is no longer a mystery to you. It competes fiercely with native species, disrupting biodiversity.

But there are effective methods to remove this tree menace! Manual removal works for small seedlings while larger ones need the cut-and-treat method using glyphosate-based herbicides.

Beware though, root suckers may emerge after cutting down a female tree. Post-removal care is essential too – monitor for regrowth and treat stump again if necessary!

We also explored non-invasive alternatives to plant once you get rid of these invaders from your yard – think native ash trees or black walnuts drop!

Sometimes calling professional services like ours might be best especially when dealing with larger specimens or severe infestations.

This fight against invasive species is long-term but together we can make strides towards healthier green spaces one yard at a time!

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