|Leaf Shape||Oval leaflets|
|Mature Height||30 to 120 feet|
|Best Habitat||Moist soil and full sunlight
|Best Climate||Cool to warm|
|Uses||Baseball bats, tool handles, furniture|
Ash trees are highly visible in major metropolitan areas. They are used to beautify city sidewalks and streets, but are just as prized by homeowners and landscapers to embellish yards and parks. With more than 60 varieties of Ash trees to choose from, it's important to research the characteristics of each before selecting the type that best suits your needs.
Appearance of the Tree
Size is an important factor when identifying an Ash tree. The tree's size varies dramatically between species. For example, while the Velvet Ash tops out at 30 feet, the White Ash can tower up to 120 feet.
Other notable traits of the Ash tree include:
- Branches: One of the most unique characteristics of the Ash tree is its branches which grow opposite each other on the limbs. This trait occurs very rarely in nature and is shared exclusively among Ash trees, Maples, Dogwoods and Horsechestnuts.
- Leaves: The leaves of the Ash tree are compound, which means they grow on a long stem that is attached to a twig. Each stem contains several small oval leaflets that make up the compound leaf. The size and number of the leaflets vary among Ash trees, though most feature five to 13 leaflets which measure between three to five inches long.
- Fruit: The fruit of the Ash tree is known as samaras. Similar in shape to an insect wing, samaras contain the tree's seeds and are covered with a thin, protective membrane. The elongated Samaras, which measure about one to two inches long, hang off the Ash tree until they fall to the ground in late summer and early autumn.
Light brown samaras are only found on female Ash trees. Meanwhile, the male tree forms flowers, but the blossoms are so tiny and inconspicuous, they are barely recognizable.
Ash Tree Types
The Ash tree, from the genus Fraxinus, has more than five-dozen different types of Ash trees growing around the world. However, not all of types of the deciduous tree are suitable for landscaping purposes.
Among the most popular types of Ash trees are:
- White Ash: The White Ash tree is the largest of all the species. It can reach heights exceeding 100 feet and sprout a leaf canopy that stretches up to 70 feet wide. The popular shade tree features some of the earliest changing fall foliage in a variety of colors, including red, purple, yellow and orange.
- European Ash: This type of rounded Ash tree is relatively easy to care for. It grows to about 75 feet with a canopy that is equal to or greater than its mature height. The European Ash sports very dark green leaves in the summer and has little or no fall color.
- Green Ash: This deciduous broadleaf Ash tops out at about 60 feet. It is prized by landscapers for its glossy, green leaves in the summer and its stunning yellow leaves in the fall. The Green Ash is prized for its shading ability and is often seen on city streets.
In addition to being attractive trees, the Ash is also hardy. Most species live up for 100 to 250 years when exposed to proper growing conditions.
Where the Ash Grows
While Ash trees can be found around the world, they are most predominant in the United States, particularly in:
- New England
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
White Ash and Green Ash are commonly found from New England to northern Florida and westward to the Great Plains, while Blue Ash grows in the Midwest. Western Ash species include Texas Ash, Velvet Ash, and Oregon Ash.
Regardless of what region it grows in, the Ash tree needs full sun and damp, fertile soil to thrive.
Most people don't realize that the Ash tree is part of the olive family. As such, the tree produces oil that is chemically similar to olive oil. This oil can be heated and used to alleviate stomach ailments.
Other popular uses for the Ash tree include wood products such as:
- Baseball bats
- Tool handles
- Hockey sticks
- Canoe paddles
- Guitar bodies
In ancient civilizations Ash wood was used to make furniture and boats. In addition, ash tree wood is a prime choice for crafting bird houses.
While Ash timber has a litany of commercial uses, it can also be used in the home for smoking meat. The White Ash and European Ash are top picks for smoking wood.
The tree has other interesting facts associated with it including:
- Ash was commonly used to construct carriages in the early 19th Century.
- Early aviators used Ash tree wood to craft airplanes.
- The Morgan Motor Company of Great Britain still manufactures sports cars with frames made from Ash timber.
- In Norse mythology, the first man was formed from an Ash tree.
- Irish folklore claims that shadows cast on fields from Ash trees would damage crops.
- In England, some believe Ash bark can cure warts.
There are several diseases that can severely damage Ash trees, including:
- Anthracnose: This disease can result in extensive defoliation and twig death. Symptoms of infection range from brown areas on leaves to cankers on branches and the tree's trunk.
- Ash Yellows: White and Green Ash trees are most susceptible to Ash Yellows. The leaves start to yellow and develop early fall color. The Ash tree may lose leaves and cankers may start to form on the trunk and branches, causing dieback.
- Verticullium Wilt: This disease results in cankers that can infiltrate the Ash tree's bark and branches.
Along with these diseases, the Ash tree is also preyed on by pests, namely the Emerald Ash Borer. The invasive wood-boring beetle has decimated millions of Ash trees in the United States. The beetle attacks the tree's interior vascular system and can kill it in a short amount of time.
Once you select the right Ash tree for your property, the next step is to follow these simple tips to keep it tree healthy and strong:
- Plant the Ash tree in a large, open space.
- Make sure the Ash tree has access to full sunlight and moist soil.
- If you are planting more than one Ash tree at the same time, be sure there is at least 60 feet of space between the two. An Ash tree needs adequate room for its extensive root system.
- Add some mulch to the base of the tree to keep the soil fertile.
Finally, do not over prune an Ash tree. However, if you need to remove dead limbs, do so before the first frost.