Tree of Heaven

Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima, is a fast-growing species native to China.  It's been in the US a long time and has naturalized in many places.  Currently there is a lot of interest in this tree because it is a preferred food for lanternflies. Many people are interested in eradicating this tree, and it's important to be able to correctly identify it so that desirable trees aren't damaged by mistake. For more information about the tree and lanternfly, start with the Penn State webpage

Tree of Heaven has pinnately compound leaves.  This means that each leaf actually has many leaflets, arranged kind of like a feather.  The number of leaflets is important--there will be 11-41.  Trees with fewer leaflets may be walnut,hickory or ash. Also, the leaflets have just one or a few teeth at the base, not all along the edge.  Trees that have leaflets with teeth all along the edge might be sumac. Trees without any teeth at all on their leaflets might be black locust or Japanese pagoda tree.