Latin Name: Ailanthus altissima.
Origin: Native to China and Taiwan, considered an invasive species here in the states and can now be found in 30 states.
Common Names: Varnish Tree, Tree of Heaven, Sumac, Stinking Sumac, Chinese Sumac, Ailanthus.
The Tree (characteristics): Tree of Heaven is a dioecious tree that can grow to heights ranging from 60 to 100 feet tall with a trunk that can be up to 6 feet in diameter. The bark is smooth and brownish-green in color at a young age. As the tree ages, the bark will change color to more of a light brown or gray like a cantaloupe skin. The leaves are pinnately compound. One leaf can range in length from 1 to 4 feet long. The Tree of Heaven is considered an invasive species.
Appearance of Wood: The overall appearance of the wood is very similar to Ash and will range from a pale yellow to a light brown color. On occasion, the wood will have brighter yellow, or olive-colored streaks through the wood. The grain has a coarse texture.
Density: Tree of Heaven is fast-growing but not a tree that has a long life span. Often considered a weak wood. Average reported specific gravity ranges from .44 to .60 with an average air-dried weight of 37 pounds per cubic foot. Janka Hardness is 1,420 pounds of force.
Drying and Shrinkage: Tree of Heaven can be difficult to dry and at times may become more washboard in appearance. Average reported shrinkage values are 6.1% radial, 10.8% tangential, 17.1% volumetric.
Working Properties: Tree of Heaven is easy to work with either by using hand tools or machine tools. The wood turns, glues, stains, and finishes well.
Durability: There is not very much information available on the durability of the wood although it has been known to carry good insect resistance.
Uses: Tree of Heaven can be used for cabinetry, turned objects, and paper (pulpwood).
Availability: In many locations Tree of Heaven is considered an invasive species. The wood is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List.