Just found this small tree growing on the backside of the property and wanted to know if this can be positively identified.

The base of the stems are a fairly bright red that fades to green. I noticed on the wikipedia page that the Ailanthus tree is not shade tolerant and since this tree is growing against a cornered fence where it would receive shade 95% of the day I'm not sure what it could be.

This is in central Texas.

full view leaf close-up stem close-up

  • 1
    Sure does look like it. Smell the leaves does it have that nasty ailanthus smell? May 18, 2015 at 17:24
  • You mentioned concerns about the lack of sun where it is, but I'll just add that it is very close to your fence and will likely damage the fence if left to grow there.
    – michelle
    May 19, 2015 at 12:42
  • Looks like it might be - crush the leaves and smell them - they're said to smell like 'Reese's butter cups, only bitter' if its Ailanthus. I don't know what reese's butter cups are, never mind how they smell, myself! The only thing is, Ailanthus usually has 'ears', meaning there's a notch either side towards the bottom of each leaf, and I'm not seeing that in the pic
    – Bamboo
    May 19, 2015 at 13:58
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    I see the stems are reddish... are they also fuzzy? Could be a sumac. Ailanthus smells a bit bad, not horrible but not like the smell of grass. Could also be a black walnut but looks more like sumac. May 22, 2015 at 0:23
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    Ailanthus is shade tolerant when young. However, that does not appear to be ailanthus to me.
    – J. Musser
    May 29, 2015 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


Yes it is Ailanthus altissima, native from north-east & central China, and Taiwan also. It can be considered as an invasive species in a lot of places. It loves disturbed places like railway sides. Sometimes the leaves can have a strong "peanut" smell.

  • That is a well-written answer! (Sorry for my other comments, please don't take them personally...) I took the liberty of re-writing it a tiny bit and I don't think you wanted to write disturbated ^_^ Welcome to the site! I very much appreciate your effort at digging through all out identification questions!
    – Stephie
    Jul 28, 2015 at 13:49

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