- The Ash Project – Kent Downs
- How to identify an Ash Tree
- The Business Advantages Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers Deliver
- Environmental troubles
- Pests and diseases
- Old leaves
- Care of a Purple Ash Tree
- Strange Growth Reported on Ash?
- Autumn Purple Ash Tree
- Brilliant Fall Colors Meet Easy, Fast Growth
- Planting & Care
The Ash Project – Kent Downs
How to identify an Ash Tree
In spring ash flowers appear from the black buds, they are a purple, green and yellow and small clusters of leaves begin to appear. Ash trees are dioecious (there are separate male and female trees). Male and female flowers typically grow on different trees, although a single tree can also have male and female flowers on different branches.
In summer trees are in full leaf. Leaves are made up of small leaflets on either side of a long stem. There are 9 – 13 leaflets in pairs with one at the end. The leaflets are pointed and toothed, with hairs on the lower surface. Female trees will have large bunches of ash keys (seeds) that hang from the branches in clumps.
In autumn ash trees are amongst the first trees to lose their leaves. The leaves often fall while still green, but they may yellow slightly before falling. Ash keys fall from the tree in winter and early spring, and are dispersed by birds and mammals.
In winter ash trees are identifiable by their thick curving, grey twigs in opposite pairs and the small black velvety buds that appear at the ends. Ash bark is pale grey and it is increasingly host to a variety of lichen.
Have you noticed any ash trees in your neighborhood dropping green leaves? Several days of heavy rain over the last few weeks have allowed the development of a common ash disease called ash anthracnose. The disease is caused by a fungus, Gnomoniella fraxini. The fungus spends the winter on old petioles (leaf stalks) and branches. Spring rain splashes spores onto new leaves and the fungus quickly causes brown dead splotches, or lesions, on the leaves. In reaction, the tree casts off the infected leaves. Although emerald ash borer is spreading rapidly throughout eastern North America, early leaf loss is not a symptom of that insect.
Anthracnose makes some trees unsightly, but this is not usually a serious disease. New leaves will start popping out quickly to replace the lost ones. As long as we get a reasonably dry spell over the next few weeks, the disease is likely to disappear. In really wet years, some branches may be killed.
The slide show below shows the disease in a single ash tree. It is interesting that the ash trees in the background of the first slide do not have the disease. There is a lot of genetic variation in resistance of trees to anthracnose.
Thanks to Kimber Sternberg for bringing this to my attention.
The Business Advantages Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers Deliver
The region you live in will determine when peak fall color season will arrive, and tree leaves generally begin to fall a week after peak color.
According to The Davey Tree Expert Company, in the Northeast leaves will start falling either early or late October. In the Midwest, trees can be expected to lose their leaves in mid-to-late October while in the South, leaves won’t tend to fall until late October to mid-November. In the West, leaves can fall anywhere from early to late October.
Trees determine when the proper time to drop their leaves is based on temperature and day length. Tree leaves feature chemical light receptors, phytochrome and cryptochrome, which detect red and blue light, respectively. When day length changes, the tree will begin to stop producing chlorophyll for the process of photosynthesis.
While deciduous trees’ roots, branches and twigs can endure winter’s wrath, their tender leaves cannot, so the leaves must be sealed off and shed before the cold comes in full force.
A layer of cells, known as the abscission layer, will form at the base of the leaf stem and will start to seal off the flow of water and nutrients to the leaf. When the layer is completed, the leaf dies and falls from the tree.
Not all trees form the abscission layer at the same rate, which is why some species like ash will usually be the first to drop their leaves, while sycamore trees won’t drop theirs completely until midwinter.
If your customers are seeing early leaf drop, below are a handful of reasons that could be the possible cause behind this.
If your area is coming out of a hot, dry summer, remind customers not to be surprised to see leaves drop, as trees have had to shed foliage in order to preserve water. Sometimes a tree will have grown more leaves than it can truly support, so early leaf drop can help it conserve resources and thin out a crowded canopy.
While a lack of water makes sense as something that causes leaves to shrivel and die, an overabundance of water can cause leaf drop as well. Overwatered trees’ leaves can yellow and drop if a tree’s roots are being suffocated by water.
Trees can also lose their leaves early if they are not suited for that region’s hardiness zone.
Some of the other environmental factors that can affect the pattern of leaf loss include early or late frost, high winds and soil conditions. Trees in cities also have to deal with man-made stressors like air pollution and herbicides. Trees growing under street lights will have their cycle disturbed by the light.
Pests and diseases
Another cause behind early leaf drop can be pests or fungal leaf diseases. Fungal infections tend to appear after a wet growing season.
Oak wilt is a common cause for leaf drop in oaks. It will first turn leaves yellow, then brown before dropping from the top of the canopy. Tar leaf spot is a disease that can be found in maple trees. Leaves will turn yellow and then black before dropping off. Anthracnose is another tree fungus that can cause ash trees to lose their leaves early.
The fungi that cause anthracnose and tar spot can overwinter on infected leaves that fall and spread the next spring via spores carried by the wind.
The best management strategy is to rake and destroy the infected leaves in the fall.
Insects such as mites, scales, whiteflies and aphids can cause early defoliation. The size of the tree will determine how practical it is to treat with pesticides.
Like the cells in your body, leaves have a limited lifespan and are replaced. If the leaves that are dropping early are older leaves on the inside or lower parts of the tree, this is normal and nothing for your customer to worry about.
If the tree is dropping the newest leaves at the tips of the tree, there could be a sign that the tree is in serious trouble. Contact a certified arborist to inspect the tree if you do not have one in-house.
Autumn Purple Ash
Fraxinus americana ‘Junginger’
The first time I really noticed Autumn Purple Ash was in the fall in Puyallup, Washington. I rounded a corner and saw what appeared to be large, round, purplish-orange globes on tree trunks. They were spectacular; at least they were that fall. That is one thing I have noticed both in the field, and especially in the nursery. Same trees can turn very different shades of their “described” fall color depending on the moisture and temperature we are having that fall. Whatever the year, though, the Autumn Purple Ash seldom disappoints anyone for fall color. Of note is the fact that the Autumn Applause Ash has a much darker purple fall color.
The size of these trees can reach approximately 45′ tall and wide, providing a medium size oval form tree. Healthy twigs and buds are large and fat, and the tree has a clean character to it. The opposite pinnately compound leaves emerge a light shiny green, then darken through the year. After their impressive fall color, the leaves drop nearly all at once; perfect for one raking.
The literature lists numerous disease and insect problems for the American Ash varieties, but from my understanding, they are more serious in the East and Midwest. Most frustrating is the occasional “Ash decline”, or dieback, that occurs for no apparent reason. The most vigorous growing trees do not appear to develop as many problems.
When digging these trees in the nursery, the roots appear to be numerous, large, and aggressive. From this, I might assume that root barriers would be recommended when planted in narrow spaces, but I have not seen specific evidence of the need for this. Overall, I have found the Autumn Purple Ash to be an excellent performing medium size shade tree. I suspect its close relatives, the Autumn Applause, Windy City, and others are equally pleasing. As always, send any comments to me on the performance of these trees.
ISA Certified Arborist #0135
ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist #356
Certified Tree Risk Assessor #PNW-0327
Care of a Purple Ash Tree
Below are the reference articles on Emerald Ash Borer(EAB) I mentioned.
I would definitely continue caring for the tree next year. There are professional EAB treatments that last 2-3 years( (emamectin benzoate and azadirachtin are two examples) Most treatments are yearly and the homeowner applied ones are done each year, too, usually in spring.
Professional Injection treatments are recommended for trees larger than 15inches in diameter. Injections over many years gradually become less effective due to the scaring at the injection sites and the additional stress on the tree. As EAB populations drop in areas where ash trees have died, treated trees may have a chance to live long term.
If your tree shows dieback or thinning next season, I would consult a certified arborist to come on site, examine the tree from root zone to top, and give you an assessment and treatment plan, if warranted. You can consult an arborist now, if you like. To find them by zip code search here—- www.treesaregood.org
You want certified arborists, not just tree services since not all services have a certified arborist on staff. Certified professionals have taken training and passed certification tests.
Keeping the tree watered during droughts, mulched ( without letting mulch pile against the trunk), and growing well is key to keeping the tree for as long as possible.
Here are references with the latest on EAB treatments, and should you need them, alternative choices to Ash trees—
Strange Growth Reported on Ash?
Galls can be caused by insects, mites, bacteria, fungi, nematodes and mechanical damage.
By Tivon Feeley
Iowa State University
Iowa State University (ISU) Forestry Extension has received numerous questions about a strange and unsightly growth on ash trees. Homeowners are reporting green or brown clusters hanging from the trees that look like a cocklebur. These clusters are caused by an eriophyid mite, and the damage is commonly called the ash staminate flower gall.
Galls are abnormal growths or swellings of plant tissue that is damaged. Galls can be caused by insects, mites, bacteria, fungi, nematodes and mechanical damage. They are commonly found on leaves, twigs, branches and occasionally the main trunk of a tree. However, in this case the damage is done to the flower of the ash tree. Ash trees are dioecious, which simply means that the tree either has all male flowers (staminate) or all female flowers (pistillate). In this case, the mites are feeding on the tiny male flowers.
The mites are too small to be seen without the aid of a hand lens, but the damage they caused has been very noticeable this year particularly on white ash. The mites spend the winter under the flower buds and begin feeding and laying eggs in the developing flowers in spring. The ash tree, in response to the mites feeding, grows new malformed plant tissue (gall) around the mite. The galls in turn provide some protection for the mite against weather, predators and parasites.
The ash staminate flower galls remain on the tree for up to two years. The galls are green at first, and later become brown to black within the growing season. Research has shown that this particular gall does not harm the tree’s health or growth rate. In extreme conditions, the weight of the galls can cause smaller branches to strain from the weight. This problem is rare and typically affects young newly planted ash trees.
The next obvious question is why we are seeing so much damage this year? The mild winters may have helped the mite population increase over the last several years, but there is more to this story. Many homeowners have elected to purchase and plant only seedless ash trees, which is simply a male ash tree. Planting the seedless selections has helped create more “homes” for the mites. After the fact, many homeowners have now decided they would prefer the temporary seeds to the slightly longer term galls.
The galls are usually an aesthetic problem and chemical control is not necessary and rarely works. Perhaps a cooler winter will help limit the future damage, but the best answer is to diversify the species of trees planted. Ash is one of the most overplanted trees in Iowa and has several decline problems. In addition, there is concern about damage being caused by an insect called the emerald ash borer in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
The best way to help limit damage to any tree species is diversity. Use other tree species such as Kentucky coffeetree, Ostrya (ironwood), American hornbeam, linden, hickories, larch, maples, hackberry, oaks, gingko, sycamore and maybe even a native male (cottonless) cottonwood.
There is one high resolution photo available for use with this week’s column:
Autumn Purple Ash Tree
Brilliant Fall Colors Meet Easy, Fast Growth
Why Autumn Purple Ash Trees?
Spectacular autumn foliage meets carefree growth, making the Autumn Purple Ash a favorite for easy, fast shade that’s unbelievably vibrant. In fact, unlike many other similar varieties, the Autumn Purple Ash is highly adaptable to an array of soil types and is relatively drought resistant, meaning no guesswork in growing for you.
Transitioning from glossy green into red and finally to a brilliant purple in the fall, the Purple Ash makes an eye-catching statement. The Purple Ash holds its fall color longer than almost any other tree, so you’ll enjoy the show the entire season!
And it works for you. Its large leaves block sunlight, cutting your cooling bills. When you get an Autumn Purple Ash of your own, you get a regal-looking ornamental tree that stands up to the elements, increases the value of your property, and saves energy.
Thriving up north or down south, the Autumn Purple Ash truly does it all. You can plant this enduring shade tree nearly anywhere…it lasts generation after generation.
Why Fast-Growing-Trees.com is Better
When you order from Fast Growing Trees, you get a higher quality, more attractive tree. Our Autumn Purple Ash goes through an extensive grafting process that guarantees incredible fall color. Few other nurseries do this because it takes an extra year and more labor…but your Autumn Purple Ash from Fast Growing Trees is poised for long-term success.
Now, you reap the rewards of our hard work at the nursery with a colorful, carefree tree.
Order while supplies last. Our Purple Ash is a customer favorite and sells out every year…so, don’t wait – get your Autumn Purple Ash today!
Planting & Care
1. Planting: Purple Ash Trees are moderately drought tolerant and very adaptable to a wide variety of soil conditions, even soils that are heavy in clay, providing that the soils are well-draining.
Dig your hole in any area with full sun to partial shade (about 4 to 5 hours of sunlight daily) and make it twice as wide as the diameter and just as deep as the depth of the root ball. Place your tree in the center and gently backfill the soil until it halfway fills the hole. Water the planting site and allow the soil to settle.
2. Watering: Your Autumn will benefit from weekly watering until it becomes more established. The best way to water Autumn Purple Ash roots is by placing a garden hose with slow trickling water at the base of the tree for about 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Fertilizing: Fertilize your Autumn Purple Ash with a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. Apply the fertilizer according to the instructions on the packaging during the summer months.
4. Pruning: Your Autumn Purple Ash will benefit from some occasional pruning, which should be done in the early spring season. Remove any branches that overlap, grow upright or crisscross on the main trunk.
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