Ailanthus (Simaraubaceae) Ailanto

The name of¬†Ailanthus derives from the word ailanto, a local term used for a tropical species, which means “tree high enough to reach the sky”. This derivation is traced in the names adopted in some European countries, such as England and Spain, where this species is called the “tree of heaven”.

An example of a twig and a leaf composed of Ailanthus altissima (Ailanto)
An example of a twig and a leaf composed of Ailanthus altissima (Ailanto)

Cultivated species of Ailanthus:

Ailanthus glandulosa (previously Ailanthus altissima): usually reaches m 22-23 in height but can exceptionally reach up to 30 meters. It is a deciduous tree, fast growing and well suited to city gardens. The leaves, composed of 6-12 pairs of petiole leaves, are very long, up to 80-90 cm. Flowering occurs in the period from May to July. The flowers, arranged in large panicles, have a rather unpleasant odor; the red fruit is a samara and the seed is in a central position. This species, native to China and the Moluccas, was introduced in Italy in 1760. Used as an ornamental tree it quickly became wild and today it is found everywhere in the plains and hills. It does not lend itself to being used as a forest plant because in our climates it ages with some rapidity. Even in gardens it is hardly used for the bad smell of flowers.


grows in any type of soil. It multiplies very well by root suckers and also by seed. Growth, even in the early stages of life, is very rapid.