Stewardship Overview: Ailanthus is a fast growing tree, a prolific seed producer, a persistant stump and root sprouter and an aggressive competitor with respect to the surrounding vegetation. It occurs primarily in disturbed areas, though it may invade undisturbed habitats. It was brought into California mainly by the Chinese who came to California during the goldrush in the 1890's, and frequently occurs in abandoned mining sites. Little work has been done on developing biological or chemical control methods. The most effective means of control may be to pull seedlings by hand before the tap root develops.
Species Impact: Although only occasionally found in nondisturbed areas (Kowarik 1983), Ailanthus is a prolific seed producer, grows rapidly and can successfully compete with the native vegetation. It produces toxins which prevent the establishment of other species (Mergen 1959). The root system is aggressive enough to cause damage to sewers and foundations (Hu 1979).
Ailanthus was not nominated by any specific preserve manager, but is recognized by TNC staff as an important exotic weed. A recent survey (2 March 1985) of CNPS members showed a wide distribution of this tree throughout California. Members of both the Mt. Lassen and Sequoia chapters consider it a major pest at low elevations. There are also reports of it growing in Santa Cruz, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and San Diego counties.