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Photo Credit: Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia,

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  • FAMILY Simaroubaceae
  • CATEGORY Shrubs, Vines, & Others

tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

An invasive tree not known to be in Hawai'i.

  • A tall tree up to 80 ft with smooth stems and pale gray bark
  • 10-41 small leaflets form large compound leaves (1-4 ft long), each leaflet has one or more teeth along its edge
  • Small, pale yellow to greenish flowers grow in clusters on the tip of the branches; reddish-orange fruit is flat and twisted growing in large bunches up to 12 in across
  • Only known in one eradicated location on Kaua'i, not known to be present on other islands; native to China
  • Spread by seeds and suckers, seeds are dispersed by wind, water, and birds


  • Produces abundant root sprouts that will develop into thickets and displace native vegetation
  • Produces chemicals that prevent other species from growing
  • Extensive root system that has been known to damage sewers and building foundations
  • Seedlings easily invade pastures and crops, reducing productivity

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