Ailanthus triphysa

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Acacia polyacantha ssp. polyacantha
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Acrocarpus fraxinifolius
Adansonia digitata
Adenanthera pavonina
Aegle marmelos
Afzelia africana
Afzelia quanzensis
Agathis macrophylla
Agathis philippinensis
Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus excelsa
Ailanthus triphysa
Albizia adianthifolia
Albizia amara
Albizia anthelmintica
Albizia chinensis
Albizia coriaria
Albizia ferruginea
Albizia gummifera
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Local names:
Burmese (o-dein), English (white palle), Hindi (muddhe dhup,guguldhupa,pongilyam,perumaram,peddamanu,matti), Indonesian (selangke,kayu langit,ki pahit,kirontasi), Tamil (perumaram,peru,mattipal), Thai (makkom,mayom-pa,mayom-hom), Trade name (maharuk,whit

Ailanthus triphysa is a single stemmed tree or shrub. Bole cylindrical, attaining a height of 30 m and diameter of 1.2 m. Branchlets covered with many leaf scars. Young stems pubescent. Bark grey, rough, inner bark, 1.3 cm thick, yellow and fibrous.

Leaves pinnate, large 45-60 cm long, crowded at branch ends; leaflets 5-10 pairs, ovate, oblong, sickle-shaped, tapering from the base, 7.5-15 x 2.5-5 cm, thin, shining, glabrous and glaucous beneath, very oblique at the base; petiolules 1 cm long.

Flowers white, polygamous in lax axillary panicles; pedicels short. Calyx lobes minute, pubescent, triangular, acute. Petals about 0.4 cm long, glabrous, oblong-lanceolate.

Fruit a samara, 5-7.5 cm long, reddish-brown, membranous, flat. Seed compressed, circular.

The generic name ‘Ailanthus’ comes from ‘ailanthos’ (tree of heaven), the Indonesian name for Ailanthus moluccana.


A. triphysa is a light demanding Asian tree found in wet evergreen climax forests of the western Ghats, from the Konkan, North Kanara and Karnataka southwards to Travancore.

Native range
India, Myanmar, Nepal

Tree management

Containerised stock (commonly in polybags, but also in root trainers) is planted in pits (15-20 cm cube) at 2 x 2 m spacing with the onset of rains, in the case of monospecific woodlots. To suit the requirements of intercropping, the row-to-row spacing can be altered.

Seedlings are vulnerable to weeds and shade. Two to three weedings may be necessary in the initial years to keep the plantation weed -free. Fertilizers may be applied @ 30-40 g N, 15-20 g P2O5 and 15-20 g K2O per year per sapling from the second year to the fifth year and thereafter once in three years for a pure plantation.

In case too many lateral branches are produced, pruning may be practised. The trees can be felled/harvested over a period of 8 to 10 years. Pollarding is recommended in managing A. triphysa under a 10 year rotation.

Ailanthus trees  fruit ripens in March-April, which represents the ideal time for seed collection. The seeds can be stored for only for a few months.

A. triphysa is a light demanding Asian tree found in wet evergreen climax forests of the western Ghats, from the Konkan, North Kanara and Karnataka southwards to Travancore.

A. triphysa is propagated by direct sowing. Alternate wetting and drying improves seed germination. The procedure involves soaking the entire quantity of seeds in cold (room temperature) water in the evening and draining the water next morning, followed by drying the seeds under shade during the day. The cycle is repeated for two to three days. It has been raised successfully by planting nursery-raised seedlings.

Raised beds of 10 x 1 m are formed. Preferably sand, soil and farmyard manure (1:1:1 ratio) must form the top layer of the beds. Sowing is done after the bed is watered. Usually sowing is done by broadcast method (or dibbling) in Nov-December, for June planting and March-April, for October-November planting. After sowing, a thin layer of soil is sprinkled on the beds to cover the seeds. The beds are also mulched with green leaves to reduce the evaporation losses and dusted with carbaryl 10% to prevent insect attack. Seed rate is 1 kg per bed. After sowing, watering is done with a fine rose-can twice a day for 10-15 days and once a day afterwards. The nursery beds also must be weeded as and when necessary.

Germination takes place in about 8-10 days after planting and the seedlings attain a height of 10-15 cm in six weeks time. They are then pricked out into polythene bags containing 1:1:1 mixture of sand, soil and FYM.

Timber:  Wood is used for making boats, matches, fishing floats and weaponry accessories e.g. sword handles and spear sheaths.

Shade or shelter:  A useful shade provider.

Tannin or dyestuff:  A dye obtained from the plant’s leaves stains satin black

Medicine:  The plant roots, leaves, bark and gum exudates are used as medicine in India.

Gum or resin:  A gum is obtained from stem cuttings of A. triphysa.

Ornamental:  A tree often planted for aesthetic purposes.

Soil improver:  Leaf litter of A. triphysa on decomposition restores soil fertility.

Intercropping:  Used as live stakes for supporting black pepper (Piper nigrum).

Essential oil:  Aromatic oils are obtained from the bark.

Other services:  The dried bark and gum exudates are burnt as incense.