Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

Also known as: tree of heaven

Tree-of-heaven is a deciduous tree or shrub. Dense suckering from its roots competes with other desirable plants.

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How does this weed affect you?

Tree-of-heaven is a deciduous tree with a tendency to sucker extensively from its roots, forming dense thickets and outcompeting other desirable plants.

Toxicity

Tree-of-heaven is mildly toxic to humans with mild symptoms of headache and nausea if ingested in large quantities. The sap is a skin and eye irritant causing rashes, dermatitis and conjunctivitis, and the pollen can cause allergic reactions such as hay fever. 

What does it look like?

Tree-of-heaven is a deciduous tree or shrub that can grow up to 20 m high. It has greyish bark, small white or yellow-green flowers in clusters, and dark green leaves that turn yellow in autumn.      

References

Johnson, A. and Johnson. S. (2006), Garden plants poisonous to people, Primefact 359, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Orange. 

More information

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Control

By hand

Dig or pull out young seedlings by hand. Remove and dispose of all the roots. It is difficult to remove all the roots in older plants once the taproot has developed. 

Chemical control

Spraying

Spot spray small plants that are too big to be removed by hand. Apply herbicide to actively growing plants. Ensure that all of the foliage is covered with herbicide.. 

Basal barking

Use basal bark application for plants with stems up to 10 cm diameter at the base. Liberally spray the bark around the stem from ground level to 30 cm high all the way around the plants. Wet thoroughly to the point of runoff. Do not treat dormant plants in winter.

Cut stump method

Cut stump application can be used for plants with stems over 10 cm diameter at the base. Cut trunks or stems and apply herbicide to the cut and the sides of the stump immediately. Do not treat dormant plants in winter. Apply to dry stems as wet stems can repel the mixture.

Stem injection

Use an axe or saw to make horizontal cuts 5-20 mm deep into the sapwood around trunk of each tree. Space the cuts evenly, no more than a 2- 4 cm gap between them. Apply a 5 mm layer of gel over the lower surface of teach cut.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


2,4-D 300 g/L + Picloram 75 g/L (Tordon® 75-D)
Rate: 650 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Foliar application, apply at full leaf.
Withholding period: 1-8 weeks (see label).
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 10 g metsulfuron-methyl plus 200 mL glyphosate in 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to actively growing trees to point of run. Ensure all daughter plants are controlled.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


Hexazinone 250 g/L (Velpar® L)
Rate: 4 mL per spot, one spot per metre of height
Comments: For use on bushes up to 3 m tall. Do not apply near desirable trees.
Withholding period: No stated withholding period.
Herbicide group: C, Inhibitors of photosynthesis at photosystem II (PS II inhibitors)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 10 g in 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to actively growing trees. Avoid spraying when stressed, when leaf fall has commenced, or after the end of February.
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High


Picloram 44.7 g/L + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump/stem injection application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm. Apply 5 mm layer on stems above 20 mm .
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 240 g/L + Picloram 120 g/L (Access™ )
Rate: 1.0 L in 60 L of diesel (or biodiesel such as Biosafe).
Comments: Basal bark application for plants with stems up to 10 cm diameter at the base. Cut stump application can be used for plants with stems over 10 cm diameter at the base. Do not treat dormant species in winter. See label for information about biodiesel.
Withholding period: Nil
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 600 g/L (Garlon® 600)
Rate: 1.0 L in 60 L of diesel
Comments: Basal bark application for plants with stems up to 10 cm diameter at the base. Cut stump application can be used for plants with stems up to and in excess of 10 cm diameter at the base.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2022