Deciduous tree growing to 65 ft (20 m). Has large leaves with up to 12 lance shaped leaflets, and small greenish-yellow flowers. It has an unpleasant odor.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to China and India, tree of heaven is now naturalized in some parts of Europe, Australia, and North America. It is cultivated as a garden tree. The bark and root bark are harvested in spring.
Bark, root bark.
The bark contains quassinoids (such as ailanthone and quassin), alkaloids, flavonols, and tannins. Quassinoids are intensely bitter, antimalarial, and act against cancerous cells.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
In Chinese herbal medicine, tree of heaven is used to treat diarrhea and dysentery, especially if there is blood in the stool. The bark of the tree has been used in Asian and Australian medicine to counter worms, excessive vaginal discharge, gonorrhea, and malaria, and it has also been given for asthma. Tree of heaven has marked antispasmodic properties and acts on the body as a cardiac depressant.
Chinese researchers gave tree of heaven to 82 patients with acute dysentery, and cured 81. Abdominal pain generally eased within 2 days. The anti-cancer properties of quassinoids are being extensively investigated. Laboratory research indicates that the whole plant has a marked antimalarial activity.
A. malabrica is used in herbal medicine in Southeast Asia for its tonic properties and to reduce fever.
Use tree of heaven only under professional supervision.