Tree of Heaven Background and Distribution

Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) or TOH is native to regions from Taiwan to Central China but can occur anywhere around 22o to 34o N in latitude1

In the U.S. it was first introduced as an ornamental in 1784 near Philadelphia, PA2. Second introduction occurred in New York (1820) due to its value as an ornamental3. TOH was widely used as an urban street tree in Baltimore and Washington, D.C2. In the 1850's it was brought to the West Coast by immigrants. It has since spread as in invasive to much of the United Stated, including Hawaii.

Tree of heaven has the potential of establishing in every state, and has been found on every continent except Antartica. 

Ailanthus altissima distribution4

Tree of Heaven Distribution Map: U.S. and Parts of Canada


1. Udvardy, L. 1998. Spreading and coenological circumstances of the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) in Hungary. Acta Botanica Hungarica. 41(1-4): 299-314.

2. Invasive weeds fact sheet Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). 2018. PennState Extension. Available from

3. Davies, P. A. 1942. The history, distribution, and value of Ailanthus in North America. Transactions, Kentucky Academy of Science. 9: 12-14. [45812]

4. Kowarik, I. Saumel, I. Biological flora of Central Europe: Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle. 2006. Institute of Ecology, Technical University Berlin, Rothenburgstr. ScienceDirect. 12, 12165 



Last modified: Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 4:51 PM