Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle

English Tree-of-heaven ISEIA: C1
Lëtzebuergesch Himmelsbam EASIN
Français Ailante glanduleux Wikipedia: Wikipedia - English - Tree-of-heaven Wikipedia - Français - Ailante glanduleux Wikipedia - Deutsch - Götterbaum Wikipedia - Nederlands - Hemelboom
Deutsch Götterbaum Wikispecies: Wikispecies - Ailanthus altissima
Nederlands Hemelboom Back to the list of neophytes

Ailanthus altissima is a fast-growing, light demanding and thermopile pioneer tree species. It grows best on nutrient-rich soils and is very tolerant to dryness and air or soil pollution. It is mostly found in waste and disturbed areas, but can also invade different forest ecosystems, riparian areas, rock outcrops and semi-natural grasslands (Source:

Report the species

Report Ailanthus altissima to the National Museum of Natural History.

Importance and distribution in Luxembourg

Distribution map of Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle in Luxembourg. Recorder-LUX & iNaturalist, 2019.08.26.

In Luxembourg, the tree of heaven has first been documented on 13th July 1993 by Léopold Reichling in Pfaffenthal within the urban area of Luxembourg-City.

For two decades the species did not appear to have spread to the wild yet. It is only in recent years that the species was planted in several urban areas and appeared in the wild on sandstone cliffs in Luxembourg-City.

The species should be listed in the national list of invasive alien species of Luxembourg concern pursuant to Article 12(1) of the EU Regulation 1143/2014 on Invasive Alien Species. Ailanthus should not be planted any more as an ornamental tree and existing populations should be eradicated.

Ailanthus as ornamental tree in urban areas


Alley of Alianthus altissima, Porte de France, Belval, Esch-sur-Alzette. Photo: Yan Steil, 23.07.2014.

  • On 23rd July 2014 a complete alley of Ailanthus altissima has been discovered in the street Porte de France in Belval / Esch-sur-Alzette. It has been recently planted in the course of the regeneration of the brownfield site into a large scientific and cultural centre, including the science faculty of the University of Luxembourg (Steil 2014, pers. comm.).
  • A group of Ailanthus altissima trees has been recently planted behind the Olympic swimming-pool in Kirchberg by the Fonds du Kirchberg. Seedlings already started to spread on this site (Helminger 2018, pers. comm.).
  • A row of 9 Ailanthus altissima has been planted before 2008 along a parking area behind the church of Walferdange (Welter et al. 2008: 81; map).
  • A single tree is situated in the section of the municipal park situated between Avenue de la Porte-Neuve and Avenue Émile-Reuter in Luxembourg-city (on the side of the Avenue de la Porte-Neuve in line with two trees of Corylus colurna. Two single trees can be found in the Rue du Rollingergrund, one in front of the house n°294 and another next to the residence on n°306 (Welter et al. 2008: 81).
  • A single old tree and several saplings were observed on 10th June 2018 in the municipal park of Diekirch situated along the river Sûre.

These are typical examples for a worst case scenario. In a few decades, climate change helping, Ailanthus might grow in many pavement rinds, flowerbeds and vague grounds all over these sites and possibly into the wild in adjacent areas.

Ailanthus in the wild

In 2018, two populations of Ailanthus altissima have been sighted on the edge of the cliff along the railway to Wasserbillig between the Plateau du Rham and the INS and above n°11 Bisserweg.

Risk assessment

ISEIA protocol: C1 (1+1+1+1) (Ries et al. 2013: 18).

Bibliography concerning Luxembourg

  • Ries, C., Y. Krippel, M. Pfeiffenschneider & S. Schneider, 2013. Environmental impact assessment and black, watch and alert list classification after the ISEIA Protocol of non-native vascular plant species in Luxembourg. Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 114: 15-21. [PDF 652 KB]
  • Welter A., J.Turk & J. Trossen, 2008. Les arbres introduits au Luxembourg. Inventaire des essences arborescentes non indigènes de pleine terre présentes sur le territoire du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. Ferrantia 53, Musée national d’histoire naturelle, Luxembourg, ISSN 1682-5519, 111 pp.

Photo gallery

Alley of Alianthus altissima, Porte de France, Belval, Esch-sur-Alzette. Photos by Yan Steil, 23rd July 2014.

Suggested citation of this webpage

Ries, C. & M. Pfeiffenschneider (Eds.), 2019. Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle. In: - Invasive Alien Species in Luxembourg. URL: [26.08.2019].

 Last updated on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.