The tree of heaven, more formally known as Ailanthas altissima, is not one would usually plant in his or her garden on purpose. It is considered by many as a junk tree and a weed; in fact, it is more often found along RR tracks and on empty lots than on front yards. How the one in our front yard came into being is anyone's guess, but it is one of the larger trees of heaven I have run across. Despite the reputation of its species, ours has a nice shape and provides good shade to our courtyard. The name of the tree comes from its quick growth, but they usually only live for about 50 years. Based on the size of our tree of heaven, it could probably be classified as a senior citizen.
Our tree of heaven also provides shade to the sidewalk and one of the eastbound lanes of Madison.