With recent efforts to combat the threat of spotted lanternfly Penn State Extension has released two useful resources to help with the identification and control of tree-of-heaven, commonly referred to as Ailanthus. Tree-of-heaven is a rapidly growing, deciduous tree native to Asia. It was first introduced into the U.S. in the late 1700s. Initially, the tree was valued as an urban street tree and was widely planted in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas. From there, tree-of-heaven has spread and become a common invasive plant in urban, agricultural, and forested areas.
Tree-of-heaven is a preferred host of the spotted lanternfly (SLF), an invasive sap-feeding insect first discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014. A quarantine is in place for 13 SE Pennsylvania counties to stop the movement of this pest to new areas and to slow its spread within the quarantine. SLF adults are controlled using a combination of tree-of-heaven host tree reduction and the establishment of tree-of-heaven “trap” trees treated with a systemic insecticide.
These resources will help you properly identify and control tree-of-heaven. They will also assist you in distinguishing tree-of-heaven from some common native trees that look similar.