Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of North Carolina
Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Sapindales>Simaroubaceae>Ailanthus altissima (P. Mill.) Swingle
The huge, tropical-looking compound leaves smell a bit like rotting peanut butter. They're vaguely similar in shape to those of walnut or sumac, but once you smell them, you won't mistake them.
Durham Co., NC 6/27/09.
The samaras (winged fruits), produced in summer, turn yellow to rosy as they ripen. The leaves of mature trees, like this one, don't stink.
Durham, NC 8/2/2003.
Chatham Co., NC 6/28/09.
Ailanthus is most common in urban and disturbed areas, though it can also be found occasionally in undisturbed forest.
Juglans nigra (Black Walnut)
Toxicodendron vernix (Poison Sumac)
NC State Fact Sheet
Plant Conservation Alliance Fact Sheet
Trees of Alabama and the Southeast
Virginia Tech Dendrology
Recommended Tree, Shrub, and Woody Vine Identification Guides
All photographs and text ©2013 by Will Cook unless otherwise noted.