Tree of Heaven

Tree of Heaven is one of the invasive species that the State of Maryland currently considers the most troublesome. Learn more below.

Tree of Heaven
Jan Samanek, “tree-of-heaven,” October 1,
2010 via Forestry Images, Creative Commons


According to the Columbia University Tree of Heaven page (part of the university's Introduced Species project), the Tree of Heaven was introduced to the United States from China in 1784. The tree can rapidly grow up to 80 feet tall, and can thrive just about anywhere — it is especially suited to harsh city environments. Tree of Heaven is still sold in nurseries in the US and is popular because of its vigorous growth and its ability to prevent erosion. However, its uncontrolled spread can cause great harm to native species.

The Threat

Columbia University's researchers say that the Tree of Heaven "crowds out native species by its fast reproduction and aggressive range expansion; its suckers choke out native seedlings, greatly reducing local biodiversity." In cities, Trees of Heaven have been known to break through sidewalks, plumbing pipes, and building foundations.

Control and Removal

Columbia University advises creating a long-term strategy for controlling Tree of Heaven colonies. Cutting only stimulates new growth, so this is not an effective option. The university recommends digging up new seedlings and treating the bark of small trees with herbacides. Unfortunately, the only effective means of eradicating large trees seems to be bulldozing them repeatedly or burning them with flamethrowers. Of course, this last method must be used with extreme caution!