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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - April 07, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native, invasive Tree of Heaven in Central Texas?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Has Ailanthus altissima been reported in Central Texas? I think we have found a few growing right here in Austin amongst a stand of cedars at a residential property off of 1826 (near where 1826 hits 45). We first thought they were sumacs of some sort but they seem too tall and tree-like to be sumacs. They are about 40' feet tall with very gray trunks and they seed out like nobody's business. How can we ever get rid of them? I had not realized they had spread this far west. Help!!!??!!??

ANSWER:

We contacted Eric Becker of the Texas Forestry Dept. who does a great deal of work with invasives in Texas. Here are his comments on your question. For more information on this tree, see this article from the USDA National Invasive Species Information Center Ailanthus altissima.

"Yes, Tree of Heaven is rather common in the urban setting and can even be found in rural areas around old home sites.  I found 77 field listings on the Citizen Scientist page of the Texas Invasives.org web site and I'm sure there are far more locations as yet to be documented.  However, I'm much more concerned about Chinese pistache, chinaberry and Japanese ligustrum.  I've witnessed the ailanthus invasions in the mid south and along the east coast, but I hope our drier conditions will keep it at bay.  Good history and managment techniques can be found here: http://www.texasinvasives.org/plant_database/detail.php?symbol=AIAL "

 

 

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