White ash tree range

White Ash Tree

The white ash tree is probably the most popular of all ashes for landscaping purposes. It is a fast-growing, low-care, multipurpose landscape tree that adapts to almost any conditions.

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Description of white ash tree: This eastern and central North American native is oval in outline in its youth, becoming open and rounded at maturity. The bark is gray to brown with a distinct diamond pattern. It bears deciduous pinnate leaves, usually with 7 leaflets, that are dark green above and paler below. They take on yellow to purple shades in the fall. Female trees produce hundreds of messy seeds and should be avoided.

Growing white ash tree: White ash is easy to grow and adaptable, although it reaches its full height (well above 100 feet) only in moist, deep, well-drained soils in full sun. It dislikes dry or rocky soils. It is susceptible to many diseases when grown in poor conditions but relatively pest free when properly placed. Emerald Ash borer is a relatively new pest with a major impact on ashes. There are no resistant varieties.

Uses for white ash tree: This is a fast-growing but long-lasting tree, best used in large spaces because of its eventual size. It makes a good shade tree and an excellent city tree.

White ash tree related species: The green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) is another popular ash for landscaping use and is somewhat smaller than the white ash. Marshall’s Seedless is a good green ash.

White ash tree related varieties: There are many male selections of this tree, which do not produce seeds; these are the choicest varieties for landscaping. Autumn Purple, the most popular seedless variety, produces reddish purple fall leaves and has a pyramidal habit.

Scientific name of white ash tree: Fraxinus americana

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  • Gardening Get great tips about how to keep your garden healthy and thriving.

White Ash Tree Care: Tips For Growing A White Ash Tree

White ash trees (Fraxinus americana) are native to the eastern United States and Canada, ranging naturally from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, Texas, and Florida. They are big, beautiful, branching shade trees that turn glorious shades of red to deep purple in the fall. Keep reading to learn white ash tree facts and how to grow a white ash tree.

White Ash Tree Facts

Growing a white ash tree is a long process. If they don’t succumb to disease, the trees can live to be 200 years old. They grow at a moderate rate of about 1 to 2 feet per year. At maturity, they tend to reach between 50 and 80 feet in height and 40 to 50 feet in width.

They also tend to have one leader trunk, with evenly spaced branches growing in a dense, pyramidal fashion. Because of their branching tendencies, they make very good shade trees. The compound leaves grow in 8- to 15-inch long clusters of smaller leaflets. In the fall, these leaves turn stunning shades of red to purple.

In the spring, the trees produce purple flowers that give way to 1- to 2-inch long samaras, or single seeds, surrounded by papery wings.

White Ash Tree Care

Growing a white ash tree from seed is possible, though more success is had when they’re transplanted as seedlings. Seedlings grow best in full sun but will tolerate some shade.

White ash prefers moist, rich, deep soil and will grow well in a wide range of pH levels.

Unfortunately, white ash is susceptible to a serious problem called ash yellows, or ash dieback. It tends to occur between 39 and 45 degrees of latitude. Another serious problem of this tree is the emerald ash borer.

INTERACTIVE MAP

Using the MyTreeKeeper Interactive Map, you can identify all of the trees (ash trees and otherwise) on your Denver property and in the adjacent public rights-of-way. Is there an ash tree on your property OR adjacent to it in the public right-of-way? Please Be a Smart Ash and begin getting a plan in place NOW. (NOTE: Permits are required prior to the removal or planting of any right-of-way trees. Permits can be requested by sending an email to [email protected]).

HELP US MAP OUR ASHES

Your friendly City Forester has mapped each and every one of the public ash trees in Denver. Feel like you missed out on the fun? Well you’re in luck! Now you can join the tree mapping party thanks to an app called Curio.

In many ways, Curio serves as a social network for trees. It gives their human companions the ability to tag a tree on an interactive map, add stories, photos and data about a favorite tree, search for trees within the app and even add tree-based missions for you and your friends to conquer.

Not only are they a lot of fun, apps like Curio also allow us to protect our urban tree canopies through the sharing of valuable data. Be A Smart Ash, and get in on the act!

Images courtesy Colorado State Forest Service, Paul Wray (Iowa State University, Bugwood.org) and Richard Webb (Bugwood.org )

Why Do Trees Leaf Out At Different Times?

Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol

One of my hobbies this time of year is to try to pinpoint the day that I can say that the leaves are out and spring has arrived. Usually it’s sometime in the second week of May, though it seems to have been inching forward over the past couple of decades. But even when I can declare that it’s “spring,” not every tree is clothed in green.

Ash trees, for instance, will still have bare branches weeks from now, and the northern catalpa in my yard will balk at putting out its saucer-sized leaves for another month. Why? The question has gnawed at me and, I’ve learned, bedeviled scientists for decades.

The answer has to do with genetics and evolution, climate and weather.

You may have noticed that all the sugar maples, say, don’t leaf out at once. That could be due to microclimate. Those on a sunny south-facing slope are likely to leaf out earlier than ones growing in a low area with cold soil or on the north side of a hill. Of course, it could also have to do with genetics. All sugar maples are not exactly alike, any more than all humans are.

It might seem logical that a tree that leafs out earlier would have an edge in the race for sunlight. But there is a “safety versus efficiency” tradeoff there, said Kevin Smith, a plant physiologist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station who studies patterns of tree growth and how trees use resources.

“Those that leaf out early might get a head start, but they’re also running a risk of injury, of having to put out a second flush of leaves if they get zapped by a late spring frost,” said Smith.

Different species of trees make different choices, just as different people might. “Those are different parts of their genetic programs, and it’s not always possible to say what the survival benefit is,” Smith said.

A lot of a tree’s leaf-out strategy has to do with how the tree’s water-carrying vessels are arranged. Oaks – and elms, chestnuts and ashes – are so-called “ring porous” species. Their water-carrying vessels are arranged in a circle in a particular part of the growth ring. Their vessels are bigger and can carry more water, but are easily damaged by freezing temperatures. The tree has to put a lot of stored energy into re-creating them before it can start making leaves that will then collect more energy, Smith told me.

Diffuse porous species – those where the water-carrying vessels are narrower and scattered throughout the growth wood – are not as susceptible to cold damage. Some of those, like aspens, birches, willows, and maples, tend to leaf out earlier, though other diffuse-porous species, like basswoods, tupelos, sweet gums and beeches, tend to leaf out later. This delay may have nothing to do with tree function. In a 1984 paper in the American Naturalist, McGill University biology professor Martin J. Lechowicz speculates that late-leafing diffuse-porous species simply evolved in warmer climates, while the early-leafing species evolved in colder climates.

In fact, Lechowicz concludes that you can’t assume any of the species in temperate forests are perfectly adapted to today’s climate. Glaciers, and trees, have surged back and forth across the landscape for hundreds of thousands of years. That means, Lechowicz said, that present forest communities can be seen only as “transient assemblages rather than stable sets of co-evolved species.” Sort of like random travelers forced to put down roots in Logan Airport on a bad weather day. Lechowicz told me in a recent email that recent research in paleoecology and the evolutionary ecology of the tree species he was writing about “is consistent with the ideas I was raising.”

In the end, a staggered leaf-out schedule might be a good thing, said the Northern Research Station’s Kevin Smith. “The variation may help in creating a healthy, resilient forest; it may be a benefit to the forest as a whole that not everybody do everything at the same time.” Synchronized leaf-out, for instance, could lead to a synchronized pest population explosion.

Climate change has brought a renewed emphasis on research into why trees do what they do when they do it. And there’s still a lot to be learned, said Smith. The timing of leaf-out, wood production, the development of sugar-transporting tissues, “we really don’t understand how all that is connected.”

Joe Rankin is a forestry writer and beekeeper.

Ash Trees Facts and Information

  • Latin name: Fraxinus excelsior
  • Native words: Old Irish (nin) Scots Gaelic (fuinseann) Old English (aesc) Welsh (onnen) eastern Celtic ()
  • Ogham sign: N
  • Height when mature: 30-40m
  • Height after 10 years: 4m 13 ft

Ash Tree botanical description:

Ash is our tallest native deciduous trees when fully mature and you might be surprised to know that it actually makes up a part of the Olive tree family.

Like the Sycamore, it drops winged seed pods called ‘ash keys’ in autumn, which contain the seeds. Ash keys hang in great bunches from autumn onwards often remaining right through winter.

Ash Trees come into leaf much later than any other trees in the UK. You won’t usually see the leaves appear until after April, this is closely followed by purple clusters of flowers that appear in early May. Ash leaves are made up of many opposing leaflets, which lie along a midrib; the whole leaf is on a stalk. The old saying “oak before ash we will have a splash – ash before oak we will have a soak”, which refers to the leaf burst, is not true!

The trunk of the Ash Tree is olive green in colour and smooth when young, then, as the tree matures the bark becomes ridged. The branches, which have a greenish grey colour, often fall leaving holes, which are occupied by nesting birds. The branches have a tendency to incline downwards before rising up near their end.

Ash Tree natural history and ancient wisdom:

Most people know ash trees from hedgerows, where with oak, it is the main mature native tree.

Ash trees are excellent ‘pioneers’ and they will often be the second native tree to colonise unwooded areas, following hawthorn.

Over the past century, ash has increased in the UK and is slowly taking over ancient woods. This is probably due to 3 factors. Firstly, the cessation of coppicing, which prevented many ashes invading hazel coppices and reaching maturity. Secondly, the large areas of post industrial brown field sites in Britain have been successfully colonised by ash trees. It has also quickly filled the gap left in hedgerows by elm in the wake of Dutch Elm Disease, which struck in the late 1970s.

Ash is the original ‘lightning tree’ and mature ash are regularly split in half by strikes, yet continue to grow. Ash trees thrive in limestone areas, and small remnant areas in the White Peak (Derbyshire) suggest the whole area was covered with ancient ash forest at one time. Other places to see ancient ash woods include on the limestone pavement of the Kent estuary and the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The most northerly ash wood is at Rassal in Wester Ross, northern Scotland.

Ash is a very hard wood and is still used for tool handles of all kinds; snooker cues, oars, cartwheels etc. Its strength probably led to its adoption in folklore as a representation of masculinity. The Norse tree of life, Yggdrasil, whose crown was in heaven and roots in hell was giant ash. Norse mythology also records that the first man was made from ash. This masculine reference appears in later English folklore.

Girls would tie a bundle of twigs with strips of ash (one each) and throw them into the fire. According to how the strips gave way, the girls knew when they would be married. Celtic peoples refused to cut ash lest their house is consumed by fire.

In Irish legend, famous ash trees included the Tree of Uisnech, the Tree of Tortu and the Bough of Dathi.

The juice of the branches contains the effective element of quinine and was used as a cure-all. The strength of the tree could be transferred to a sick child by passing the youth through a cleft trunk 3 times.

Nicholas Culpeper the famous herbalist recommended eating ash seeds because: “the kernels within the husks commonly called ashen keys…prevaileth against stitches and pains in the side”.

Ash Tree place names in the UK:

  • Ashurst (Hampshire)
  • Ashley (Cheshire)
  • Ashwell (Herts)
  • Ashford (Kent)
  • Askrigg (Yorkshire)
  • Ashdown Forest (Sussex).

Ash Tree wildlife rating:

Very good.

The holes left by fallen branches are perfect for nuthatches and woodpeckers to nest in.

Ash keys are a good source of food for the rarely seen bullfinch.

Many insects live in the fissured trunk and bats will enter splits in the bark to roost.

Ash Tree Good Points:

  • Excellent for filling gaps in hedgerows or native woodland, as they survive well.

Ash Tree Bad Points:

  • Very demanding of the soil.
  • The roots spread rapidly and powerfully and can undermine nearby buildings.
  • Only suitable for large gardens or landscapes.

Want to Buy an Ash Tree?

Tree2mydoor is an award-winning gifts company that has been supplying trees as gifts for over 15 years now.

The government placed a ban on transporting Ash Trees back in 2012 due to the dieback caused by a fungus that grows on the tree. Read more about the ash dieback Chalara fraxinea epidemic here.

Due to this ban, we have been unable to send out the popular ash tree saplings as gifts. If you were considering buying an ash tree then we have a couple of other trees are very similar and just as popular.

The Rowan Tree Gift is also commonly known as a mountain ash tree due to it’s similarities to the ash such as the shape of its leaves. It’s a much smaller tree making it much better to have in the garden and it is also said to have many protective qualities too.

However, for simple size and stature, we would recommend our Oak Tree Gift. This will grow just as large as the ash tree but is a slower growing variety meaning it can be enjoyed in a pot in the garden for many years before having to be planted out into a more appropriate location.

If you are looking to order a large number of saplings for corporate promotion or project then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Drop us an email to [email protected] and we will be happy to organise something for you.

How Fast Do Trees Grow?

A question that is frequently asked by persons purchasing a tree is “how fast will it grow?” This is a difficult question to answer because the growth rate of any plant depends on site conditions and maintenance. In most cases, the growth rate given for a particular plant is based on optimal conditions. Quite frequently, however, our landscapes are less than optimal.

A tree evaluation plot in place at the Morton Arboretum near Chicago, Illinois may provide some reliable information. The test plot has soil that is often too wet in the spring and very dry in the summer. Once established, supplemental water and fertilizers were not provided. Trees are also competing with a stand of grass for water and nutrients. Trees were 10 feet tall (approximately 1 1/2 inches caliper) at establishment. Trees were ranked by their actual growth rate in the first 10 years after planting.

Trees rated as fast growing were at least 25 feet tall after 10 years. These included the American Elm (Ulmus americana), Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum), and the Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). Moderately fast growing trees measured 18 to 25 feet tall. These included Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioica), Thornless Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis) , Linden (Tilia platyphyllos, T. cordata, T. xeuchlora ‘Redmond’, and T. tomentosa), English Oak (Quercus robur), Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima), Shingle Oak (Quercus imbricaria), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), and Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera). Slower growing trees were less than 18 feet tall after 10 years. These included European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra), Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana), Norway Maple (Acer platanoides), Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea).

While the trees growing in this study are only a part of one study, the results can be applied to many of our landscape situations. Many homeowners want a fast growing tree in the landscape. However, we may pay a price for fast growth. Fast growing trees often have the problem of being weak wooded and break apart quite easily in ice and other types of storms. Thus, a fast growing tree near a home often becomes a hazard.

This article originally appeared in the March 24, 1995 issue, p. 27.

Texas Ash Tree

Unique Trees of North Texas:

(Fraxinus albicans Buckey, formerly Fraxinus texensis)

By Craig Fox

Pinnately compound leaf of Texas ash with 5-7 rounded leaflets

Ash trees, particularly in Texas, are a hot topic of conversation in the arboriculture world. After the formal confirmation of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Tarrant County, ash trees seem to be on everyone’s mind and rightfully so. Though not nearly abundant here as in the Midwest where EAB originated domestically, North Texas has a modest population (about 2-4% of the urban forest) of ash trees at risk to the destructive pest.

Perhaps the most common ash in the western Metroplex is Texas ash. Just as other members of the genus Fraxinus, they have opposite bud and branch arrangement and pinnately compound leaves. Texas ash typically feature five to seven leaflets (fewer than what is common for green or white ash) rounded in shape with possibly a slight point at the tip. They display excellent fall color in hues of purple, reds and oranges–usually in November–before shedding all their foliage. Texas ash have narrow samaras, or winged seeds, with wings that generally do not extend past the mid-point of the seed and which may persist through winter.

DFW Regional Champion Texas Ash, located inside Fort Worth’s historic Pioneers Rest Cemetery which was created in 1849

Though they may grow to forty feet tall or larger, most Texas ash in our area tend to be smaller, probably due to the thin, rocky soils they natively inhabit and their relatively short lifespan. Large concentrations can be found on fossiliferous limestone ridges through areas such as the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, around Lake Worth and through areas near Aledo, Azle and Weatherford, though it does often appear elsewhere in the DFW region. They are often found intermingled with Texas red oak, eastern redcedar, post oak and cedar elm in our area. Texas ash may be single trunk or multi-trunk and frequently found in colonies. Ultimately, their native range spans from a few counties in Southern Oklahoma near the Arbuckle Mountains, along a thin band into North Central Texas, eventually skirting the Balcones Escarpment and crossing into Northern Mexico.

During leafless periods, ash species are notoriously difficult to differentiate. Texas ash have “C-shaped” leaf scars where the bud sits within the cup of the “C”, very much like the white ash to which they are closely related. In fact, some botanists believe that Texas ash is a subspecies of white ash (Fraxinus americana). The botanical name was changed to Fraxinus albicans Buckley from Fraxinus texensis to correct a complicated issue of proper nomenclature (I still tend to use texensis for obvious reasons).

Clockwise from top left: Year old samaras of Texas ash; older bark (l) contrasted with younger bark (r)-diamond pattern not well formed on either tree; “C-shaped” leaf scar-note how the bud sits within the cup of the “C”

The DFW Regional Champion can be found in Fort Worth’s historic Pioneers Rest Cemetery—a worthwhile visit for the history, if not the tree. Located just north of downtown at 620 Samuels Avenue, the tree is the lone example of its species within the grounds and is officially recognized by the City of Fort Worth as a heritage tree. The state champion tree is located within Lost Maples State Natural area in Bandera County. Curiously, American Forests claims that the National Champion Texas ash is perched just south of Lake Ontario near Rochester, New York—well outside its native range and far removed from what seems to be the preferred site conditions.

Fraxinus is the Latin word for “spear”, while the common name ash is derived from “aesc”, an Anglo-Saxon word. Norse mythology states that humans emerged from Yggdrasil, a great ash tree spanning the cosmos and that both Odin and Thor owned spears made from ash. Vikings were sometimes referred to as “aescling”, translating to “men of ash” for the spears their warriors carried. Planks for ships, oars and chariot axles were commonly made from ash timber. Today, the wood of ash trees is popular for use in tool handles and baseball bats due to its shock resistance. It is also popularly used to create flooring and millwork.

All Fraxinus species in Texas are believed to be susceptible to attack by EAB, but some research indicates that green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) is the preferred host. The beetle, Agrilus planipennis, is native to East Asia where it is rarely problematic within its native range. Believed to be introduced into North America in the late 20th century, the borer was formally discovered in Michigan in 2002. The confirmed location in Tarrant County occurred in 2018 along Ten Mile Bridge Road, just north of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. Due to the extensive activity and damage found at the site, it is believed that EAB was present, but undetected, in Tarrant County for several years prior to discovery.

Evidence of EAB occurs in the upper canopy first, which can be hard to detect, but an increase in woodpecker activity could help provide clues as the birds actively feed on the larvae. A thinning upper canopy and epicormic shoots near the base of limbs or along the trunk are also common symptoms. After hatching from eggs laid in bark cracks and crevices, S-shaped galleries which gradually open in shape are created beneath the bark as the EAB larvae chews through the tree’s phloem. Due to the extensive feeding and destruction of cambium and phloem, the bark will eventually begin to peel, split, or fall away. After feeding and overwintering, the beautiful adult beetles emerge from the trees (probably from March through June in our area) creating a D-shaped exit hole approximately one-eighth inch in diameter. Once affected, ash trees decline quickly, often losing large limbs in the upper canopy. The tree’s death is caused by the widespread destruction of the phloem tissue supplying carbohydrates and dissolved nutrients.

For updates, additional information, or useful resources on EAB, please visit:

Texas A&M Forest Service: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/eab/

Bartlett Tree Experts Technical Report: https://www.bartlett.com/resources/technical-reports/emerald-ash-borer

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