Ailanthus altissima from Bruce in SC

I have a small group of trees in my yard in Northern Greenville County that I’d like to know if I should keep or remove. I thought it was overgrown sumac, but noticed flowers in late summer, followed by these seeds. The vase the seed pods are in is the size of a shooter glass. The trees shot up in a vacant space over the course of a few years.

Thank you,

Hi Bruce,

your trees are called Ailanthus altissima, the Chinese Tree of Heaven. You will find many if not most sources consider this to be an invasive tree that should be removed, as it spreads quickly.  It is native to China. In contrast, I like the tree – it is an ancient species that once lived in North America but became extinct here, only to survive in China. So, I must leave the choice up to you.  It is a member of the Simaroubaceae, a family usually found in the tropics. You should check it out on the internet for various opinions.


Dr. Steven Hill, Botanist, SCNPS

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