Ailanthus Desf.

Tree of Heaven

From native Moluccan ailanto — sky tree.

Vergreen or deciduous trees or shrubs. Leaves alternate and mostly compound with a terminal leaflet, clustered at the end of the branches. Leaflets more or less opposite. Flower clusters axillary, branched. Calyx 5-lobed. Petals generally 6. Stamens 10 in male flowers, rudimentary or absent in female flowers. Disk with 10 lobes. Carpels 2-5 with free ovaries, sometimes reduced in male flowers. Fruit a cluster of 1-5 samaras.


A. malabarica has a resin used as incense in Hindu temples and the leaves yield a black dye; the Chinese A. vilmoriniana is used as a source of food for the silkworm used in the production of Shantung silk.

Leaves mostly compound and alternate with opposite leaflets; fruit a samara.

About 5 species from Asia to Australia (2 native species).

Hu (1979).

Source: Spencer, R. (2002). Simaroubaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 3. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 2. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Hero image
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Sapindales
family       Simaroubaceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species         Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle