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Tree of Heaven
Ailanthus altissima
The Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is a serious threat, destroying the value of land because it out-competes desirable plants and poisons the soil with toxins exuded from its roots and fallen leaves. 
 
If it grows near buildings, its roots can penetrate sewer lines and foundations. It is also a preferred host of the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive insect which poses a serious threat to commercial vineyards and orchards.
Ailanthus can be identified by its bark and stinky leaves, and by the seed clusters on the female tree which are visible now.  This tree may be mistaken for Sumac or Walnut depending on its age. More detail on identification is in our Fact Sheet.
 
A mature female tree is estimated to produce 300,000 to 350,000 wind-dispersed seeds. The winged fruits are easily dispersed by wind, water and machinery. Hundreds of seedlings can pop up in recently planted fields and hayfields, and in established fields and meadows, if a mature, female tree-of-heaven grows nearby.
Control Methods
You CANNOT just cut this tree to the ground and walk away without treating the cut stump with an herbicide as it will send up dozens of sprouts from its entire root system.  These sprouts will grow into a dense stand of trees in no time. There are several ways to control this tree with the easiest options for landowners outlined below. 

For specific herbicide recommendations see the
Department of Forestry Herbicide Guide.
HAND PULLING AND FOLIAR SPRAY
(Small Plants)

 
If you hand pull root sprouts, they just break off from their parent root and new ones grow back. Seedlings can be hand-pulled if the soil is moist but you must get the entire root. It is more effective however, to spray both root sprouts and seedlings since it can be hard to tell them apart and you don't need to worry about roots that may be left in the ground from hand-pulling. Use a foliar spray on these up until mid-September.
CUT STUMP
Medium Size Plants
or 
Trees that Need to be Felled & Removed

If the plant is too big to hand pull and too small for hack and squirt, use the Cut Stump method.  Also, if the tree is in a position where you cannot safely kill it in place using the hack and squirt method because of where it might eventually fall, then you have to cut it down and use the Cut Stump method. 

After cutting the tree down, immediately apply a concentrated, recommended herbicide to the outer 2 inches of the stump’s circumference and down the sides to the ground level. You can do Cut Stump now until early winter.

 
HACK AND SQUIRT
(Large Plants that can Die in Place)

You can kill larger trees using the Hack and Squirt method by making cuts with a hatchet ½ inch deep at about waist height, leaving 2 inches between cuts. If you girdle the tree (make the cuts continuous around the entire tree), this may activate the tree’s survival mechanism causing it to grow numerous root sprouts. 

Apply a concentrated, recommended herbicide into the cuts immediately after you make them. Do this now until early winter.
 
See our detailed Fact Sheet for more information on identification and additional control methods.  Also review the Department of Forestry Herbicide Guide for further detail on which herbicide is most effective for the specific treatment method.
CONTROL METHODS
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