Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Interaction between Ailanthus altissima and Native Robinia pseudoacacia in Early Succession: Implications for Forest Management


Erik Nilsen
David Carr
Zhe Bao



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station




The goal of this study was to discover the nature and intensity of the interaction between an exotic invader Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle and its coexisting native Robinia pseudoacacia L. and consider management implications. The study occurred in the Mid-Appalachian region of the eastern United States. Ailanthus altissima can have a strong negative influence on community diversity and succession due to its allelopathic nature while R. pseudoacacia can have a positive effect on community diversity and succession because of its ability to fix nitrogen. How these trees interact and the influence of the interaction on succession will have important implications for forests in many regions of the world. An additive-replacement series common garden experiment was established to identify the type and extent of interactions between these trees over a three-year period. Both A. altissima and R. pseudoacacia grown in monoculture were inhibited by intraspecific competition. In the first year, A. altissima grown with R. pseudoacacia tended to be larger than A. altissima in monoculture, suggesting that R. pseudoacacia may facilitate the growth of A. altissima at the seedling stage. After the second year, R. pseudoacacia growth decreased as the proportion of coexisting A. altissima increased, indicating inhibition of R. pseudoacacia by A. altissima even though the R. pseudoacacia plants were much larger aboveground than the A. altissima plants. In early successional sites A. altissima should be removed, particularly in the presence of R. pseudoacacia in order to promote long-term community succession.


Nilsen, Erik; Huebner, Cynthia; Carr, David; Bao, Zhe. 2018. Interaction between Ailanthus altissima and Native Robinia pseudoacacia in Early Succession: Implications for Forest Management. Forests. 9(4): 221-.


Publication Notes

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.