Tree of Heaven, sounds like a fantastic plant! It must be great with a name like that.  Beautiful fall color, large white bursts of blooms, easy to grow, hard to kill?   HAULT!!!!! EASY TO GROW, HARD TO KILL!  Does this sound too good to be true? Well, it is!   The Tree of Heaven, know to the botanical community as Ailanthus altissima, is an invasive tree that has been plaguing Pennsylvania for decades.

This tree is commonly found along highways; young plants look similar to sumacs. These trees will multiply rapidly along roadsides, especially when brush clearing occurs.  The fresh cuts from existing trees will send out new tree shoots in mass, along with their large seed pod clusters that are shaken free to take root.

Control of this invasive species is a multi step process.  1st removing the trees and brush, then returning for a 2nd visit to spray the stump/root zone to kill off any possible new sprouts.  Or killing the trees with an herbicide and returning for a second visit to remove it. 

This is just problem #1!  

Problem #2 is that the Tree of Heaven is the prime host for the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), a new insect to our area that is multiplying and traveling outward at a rapid pace.  Quarantine procedures are currently in place to try and control the spread of this insect. The SLF is attracted to the smooth bark and sweet sap that the Ailanthus provides. The long mouthparts of the SLF tap into the trees system to steal its nutrients and cause die back of the plant. Willows, Maples, Oaks, Birches, Fruit trees, and grape vines are all at risk.  As the SLF attacks they leave open wounds for other pests and diseases to come in eventually killing the plant entirely.  As the SLF breeds, the eggs sacks are laid on Ailanthus along with many ornamental and agricultural trees, or ANY SMOOTH SURFACE.

Egg Masses

In addition to the Spotted Lanternfly harming our trees, they are simply an annoying insect!  They hop, they fly, they land on you and can cover and entire tree trunk or side of your house.

Not all Tree of Heaven trees need to be removed, but it is recommended to reduce the population of them to control the number of host (trap) trees for the Spotted Lanternfly. When the SLF moves in, then methods to control them can be done to help eradicate them.   Let’s help save Pennsylvania’s beautiful species and get rid of these two invasive pests at once!


#spottedlanternfly #nclli #newcastlelawnandlandscape