Durban Early Detection and Rapid Response

Tree of Hell Ailanthus altissima

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Common Name
Tree of Hell
CARA Category 3

This is a fast growing deciduous tree from China that can grow 20m or more. It has smooth stems with pale grey bark, and twigs which are light chestnut brown, especially in the dormant season. In late spring, clusters of small, yellow-green flowers appear near the tips of branches. Seeds are produced on female trees in late summer to early autumn. Fruits are papery, somewhat twisted, winged structures called samaras that are tan to pink coloured. It belongs to the Simaroubaceae family.

Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus altissima
Why is it a problem?
It competes with, and has the potential to replace, indigenous species.
Control method
Very young seedlings are easy to pull or dig out, depending on soil conditions. Removal of the entire plant is important if eradication is to be successful. Girdling, or cutting through the bark all the way around the tree may kill the upper part of it. Following this with herbicide application on stems or cut stumps will see better results.
Where is it a problem?
This is found in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free state, KZN, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

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