The ability of the tree of heaven to tolerate poor soils makes it a common invasive along roadsides in North Carolina (and all over the country). It is common in urban areas, the mountains, and in the coastal plain.
The tree is small to medium sized with smooth gray bark. It has alternate compound leaves, with 10-40 leaflets along the leaf stem. Each leaflet is lance-shaped.
It flowers in mid to late summer. Flowers are greenish-yellow and grow in clusters. The seeds are light and spread easily through the wind; they are enclosed in a twisted papery pod.
Photo credit: Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org