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Tree-of-heaven

Quick facts

Tree of heaven is a Restricted noxious weed and is considered an early detection species not present or with a limited distribution in Minnesota.

  • Tree-of-heaven grows well in a variety of soil types and tolerates varying soil moisture conditions, allowing it to grow quickly and colonize disturbed areas.
  • It grows well in urban areas and is a host for the invasive spotted lanternfly.
  • Roots are allelopathic, producing chemicals that prevent the germination of nearby plants.

Tree-of-heaven should be reported. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides detailed recommendations for reporting invasive species.

How to identify tree-of-heaven

  • Deciduous tree, 60–80' in height.
  • Species has both female and male plants.

Stem

  • Smooth stem with pale gray bark.

Branches

  • Brittle

Leaves

  • Compound, alternate leaves with smooth margins; can reach 1‒4' long.
  • Each leaf has 11–41 leaflets with up to five distinct glands near the leaflet base.
  • Leaves have a strong odor.

Flowers

  • Small, light yellow to green in color, and form in large showy clusters.
  • They have a strong, unpleasant odor.

Fruit and seeds

  • Clusters of twisted samaras develop mid-summer.
  • A pinkish hue develops, then matures to light tan.
  • Samaras are wind dispersed up to 300 feet.
  • Trees in the 12- to 20-year age class produce lots of seed.
  • Individual female plants can produce 325,000 seeds a year.

Roots

  • Shallow and grow rapidly.
  • Stem shoots may sprout from roots near the soil surface.
  • Root sprouts can emerge 50–90' away from established trees.
     
Tree-of-heaven leaves are compound and alternate with smooth margins.

 

Tree-of-heaven flowers are small, light yellow to green in color and form in large showy clusters.

Angela Gupta, Extension educator; Amy Rager, Extension educator; Megan M. Weber, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2019

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