Tree of Heaven

Ailanthus altissima

Photo of Tree of Heaven
Photo by Gary Huntzinger
Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension

This fast-growing, weedy tree with malodorous flowers gained its fame from the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, where it survived on a Brooklyn fire escape. When in flower, the tree stands out because of its many colorful flowers. The leaves are quite large, with many leaflets. The fruit is a samara. When small, it resembles staghorn sumac, but tree of heaven has one or more notches near the base of the leaflet.

Additional Images


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences