Tree of Heaven and Sumac Blooming: A PERFECT Time to Differentiate!

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Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)


toh 5


and Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)


Sumac 5


can look pretty similar.


sumac toh

Sumac on left                                                                         Tree of Heaven on Right

However, when they flower, it’s easy to tell them apart.

Staghorn sumac has a yellow-green drupe fruit now (Late June)


sumac 2


that will eventually turn red (Late July).


sumac 3


Tree of Heaven has a white cluster of flowers now (Late June)


toh 2


that will eventually become a cluster of seeds that can range from red to tan (Late July).


toh 4


You may be asking the question “Why does it matter?”


sumac tree

Sumac Tree


Tree of Heaven

Tree of Heaven


Well it really matters to the Spotted Lanternfly! They LOVE Tree of Heaven!


With that said, we are encouraging individuals to report Tree of Heaven trees using the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) -  The app is available for free for android and apple phones / devices. You can also visit those trees on a regular basis throughout the summer and fall looking for the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF). You can make a negative report if you don't see any signs or symptoms of the SLF. We are proactively looking for this invasive species that has not yet been detected in Ohio, but populations have been identified in western Pennsylvania, not too far from the Buckeye State.