Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Ailanthus altissima
(Miller) Swingle, Simaroubaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results: 

Reject, score: 12 (Go to the risk assessment (Australia))
High risk, score: 21 (Go to the risk assessment (Pacific))

Other Latin names:  Ailanthus cacodendron (Ehrh.) Schinz & Thell.; Ailanthus glandulosa Desf.; Toxicodendron altissimum Mill.

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: chou chun

English: China sumac, Chinese tree of heaven, stinktree, tree of heaven, varnishtree

French: vernis de la Chine, verno

Habit:  tree

Description:  "Deciduous tree 8-10 (-25) m high with ± rounded crown; branchlets robust, reddish-brown, ascending; leaf rachis held erect but leaflets tend to droop; suckers profusely.  Leaves:  Dark green with yellowish autumn tints, 300-600 (-1000) mm long; leaflets with 1-4 large, basal, gland-bearing teeth; bad-smelling when bruised.  Flowers: ± Greenish-yellow, ± 3 mm long, unisexual and bisexual, male flowers bad-smelling, in large terminal sprays.  Fruits:  Samaras ± long, green turning reddish-orange, twisted, in large bunches up to 300 mm across"  (Henderson, 1995; p. 60).

Description from the Flora of China online.

Habitat/ecology:  Wide variety of climatic zones from temperate to tropical.  "Produces abundant root sprouts that can develop into extensive thickets and displace native vegetation.  In urban areas it is a maintenance problem for landscapers"  (Randall et al., 1966; p. 27).  "Spreads rapidly on undisturbed grazing land, roadsides and waste places, on both clay and sandy soils"  (Cronk & Fuller, 2001; p. 135).  "Grassland, forest gaps, riparian habitats, flood plains, rock outcrops, disturbed places.  A fast growing and light-demanding pioneer tree forming extensive thickets due to root suckering, thereby displacing native vegetation.  It tolerates drought and airborne salt, and grows well on poor soils.  Older trees are resistant to freezing temperatures"  (Weber, 2003; p. 32).

Propagation:  Seeds and suckers. Seeds dispersed by wind, water and birds.

Native range:  East Asia (China); widely cultivated (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más Afuera (Alejandro Selkirk Island) introduced
invasive
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más Afuera (Alejandro Selkirk Island) introduced
invasive
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (pp. 472, 518, 550)
Voucher cited: Danton G(1430)1195. "Esta árbol que posee una potente reproducción vegetativa representa una verdadera amenaza en los lugares donde ha sido introducido. Es preocupante el desarrollo vigorosa que alcanzó detrás del pueblito de La Colonia en AS".
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
Frohlich, Danielle/Lau, Alex (2012) (p. 47)
Eradication of this infestation continuing. Voucher cited: A. Lau & D. Frohlich 2010062501 (BISH)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
invasive
Weber, Ewald (2003) (p. 32)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Queensland Herbarium (2002) (p. 1)
Chile (continental)
Chile
Chile (Republic of)   Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. (1979) (p. 12)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) native
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
"Found in many habitats; 100-2500 m. All regions of China except Hainan, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Ningxia, Qinghai".
Japan
Japan
Japan (country) introduced
Mito, Toshikazu/Uesugi, Tetsuro (2004) (p. 186)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) introduced
Weber, Ewald (2003) (p. 31)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. (1988) (p. 1215)
"Mainly on roadsides and in waste places in the vicinity of gardens and plantations".
Taiwan
Taiwan Island
Taiwan Island native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Canada (except British Colombia)
Canada
Canada (country) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
United States (other states) introduced
invasive
Weber, Ewald (2003) (p. 31)

Control:  Additional information on control methods from the Bugwood Wiki.

Physical:  Hand pull seedlings and small plants (all year round): remove all roots and fragments, as these can regrow, and dispose of at a refuse transfer station.

Chemical: Cut stumps must be treated with a herbicide (such as Picloram ortriclopyr) to prevent resprouting. Hexazinone can be applied by spot gun. Regrowth can be treated with a foliar spray.

"1. Basal bark application (late winter or early spring-summer): spray or paint 30cm wide band around trunk using triclopyr 600EC (50ml/L). 2. Swab stump (spring-summer): cut down and paint freshly cut stump with triclopyr 600EC (50ml/L). 3. Spray (spring-summer): glyphosate (100ml/10L + penetrant) or metsulferon-methyl 600g/kg (5g/10L) or triclopyr 600EC (60ml/10L + penetrant)"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).

Additional information:
Fact sheet on Ailanthus altissima from the Native Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group.
Information from the Bugwood Wiki.
Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) factsheet (from Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation's invasive plant species list)  
Information on this species from "Silvics of North American", USDA Agriculture Handbook 654.
Information from the Purdue University NewCROP web site.
Information from "Invasive plants of Asian origin established in the United States and their natural enemies, volume 1" (PDF format).
Draft European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization datasheet.
Information from the World Agroforestry Centre's AgroForestryTree Database.
Information from the Global Invasive Species Database.
Information from the publication "Nonnative invasive plants of Southern forests: A field guide for identification and control".
Information from the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual.
Species profile from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Invasive Species Information Center.
Information sheet from Weedbusters New Zealand.

Additional online information about Ailanthus altissima is available from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR).

Information about Ailanthus altissima as a weed (worldwide references) may be available from the Global Compendium of Weeds (GCW).

Taxonomic information about Ailanthus altissima may be available from the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

References:

Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John. 2011. Naturalized species in the Juan Fernández Archipelago, Chile. Unpublished spreadsheet.

Cronk, Q. C. B./Fuller, J. L. 2001. Plant invaders. Earthscan Publications, Ltd., London. 241 pp.

Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido. 2006. Nouveau catalogue de la flore vaculaire de l'archipel Juan Fernández (Chile) [Nuevo catálogo de la flora vacular del Archipélago Juan Fernández (Chile)]. Acta Bot. Gallica 153(4):399-587.

Frohlich, Danielle/Lau, Alex. 2012. New plant records for the Hawaiian Islands 2010-2011. In: Evenhuis, Neal L. and Eldredge, Lucius G., eds. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2011. Part II: Plants. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers. 113:27-54.

Henderson, Lesley. 1995. Plant invaders of Southern Africa. Plant Protection Research Institute Handbook No. 5, Agriculture Research Council, ARC/LNR, Pretoria, South Africa. 177 pp.

Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. 1979. A geographical atlas of world weeds. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 391 pp.

Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of Southern forests: A field guide for identification and control. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. 93 p.

Mito, Toshikazu/Uesugi, Tetsuro. 2004. Invasive alien species in Japan: the status quo and the new regulation for prevention of their adverse effects. Global Environmental Research 8(2)/2004: 171-191.

Parsons, W. T./Cuthbertson, E. G. 1992. Noxious weeds of Australia. Inkata Press, Melbourne/Sydney. 692 pp.

Queensland Herbarium. 2002. Invasive Naturalised Plants in Southeast Queensland, alphabetical by genus. Modified from: Batianoff, George N. and Butler, Don W. (2002). Assessment of Invasive naturalized plants in south-east Queensland. Appendix. Plant Protection Quarterly 17, 27-34. 11 pp.

Randall, J. M./Marinelli, J. (eds.). 1996. Invasive plants: weeds of the global garden. Brooklyn Botanic Garden Handbook 149. 111 pp.

U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. 2013. National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online searchable database.

Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. 1988. Flora of New Zealand, Volume IV: Naturalised pteridophytes, gymnosperms, dicotyledons. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch. 1365 pp.

Weber, Ewald. 2003. Invasive plants of the World. CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 548 pp.

Zheng, Hao/Wu, Yun/Ding, Jianqing/Binion, Denise/Fu, Weidong/Reardon, Richard. 2004. Invasive plants of Asian origin established in the United States and their natural enemies, volume 1. FHTET-2004-05. U.S. Forest Service, Morgantown.

Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong. 2013. Flora of China (online resource).


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 20 FEB 2013.