Ailanthus, also known as the "Tree of Heaven" or the "Tree of Paradise" it is native to south east Asia, particularly China, but has been widely planted around the world and was the species featured in the book "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. Ailanthus is very fast growing, often developing dense stands, and is known for being very hardy and tolerant to a wide range of environmental conditions such as heat, drought and poor soil quality. These attributes often make it so successful that it considered to be an invasive species in many places where it now grows.
The wood itself, is open grained and ring porous without conspicuous rays and visually resembles ash, although it is not nearly as hard or heavy. The wood has a distinct, pungent odour while being worked, which (luckily) does not persist in finished products. The wood machines, turns, sands and finishes easily, although it can burn with dull or slow moving power tools. Ailanthus heartwood is a bright yellow when first cut, although this mellows considerably to a light brown over time. The Sapwood is distinct from the heartwood, and is cream or light grey in colour.
Ailanthus wood is not generally available commercially, but it widespread distribution means that usable pieces are often available from local sources. It tends to be difficult to dry, often splitting, warping and cracking. Common uses for Ailanthus include cabinets, turning, and paper(pulp).