Rooted in Research

Controlling an Introduced Invasive: On the Search for Ailanthus' Achilles Heel

Cover image for Research ReviewOver 200 years ago, Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven) was introduced to the United States for use as an ornamental. The tree was recognized for its ability to tolerate various soil types and climates, rapid growth, high reproductive capacity, and lack of apparent insect pests or diseases. Initially, Ailanthus represented a reliable tree to plant in cities and revegetate disturbed areas. Today, however, the species is a common invader in many forests across the nation.

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Andrea Brandon
Science Delivery Specialist
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station

Key Management Considerations

  • Verticillium targets Ailanthus exclusively, minimizing harm to nontarget organisms while controlling the invasive tree.
  • Verticillium inoculation requires less work than chemical herbicide application since the fungus spreads to at least half of nearby non-inoculated trees.
  • Managers can use Verticillium in tough-to-treat areas because, while it spreads slowly, it has a lasting effect.

Last modified: 1/6/2023