Inclusion in Plant ID / Comparison Guides

This photo is featured in 2 plant ID/comparison guides:

collage of Tree of Heaven and Staghorn Sumac

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) vs. Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Updated September 23rd, 2021

These trees are sometimes confused because of similar compound leaf shape and occurrence in the same disturbed habitats, such as along roadsides and railroads. Both tend to form colonies with multiple trunks attached to a single root system. They can be easily distinguished at any time of year by leaves, twigs, bark, and fruit. Although their ranges and habitat overlap considerably, tree of heaven ranges farther west and is more common in cities and anthropogenic habitats, whereas staghorn sumac ranges farther north and is more common in natural areas farther from human influence.

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collage of Eastern Black Walnut and Tree of Heaven

Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) vs. Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

Updated October 31st, 2019

These trees are sometimes confused due to a similar shape to their compound leaves, and propensity to grow in sunny, disturbed habitats around human habitation, but they are easily distinguished if you know what to look for.

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