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Facts About the Ash Tree

The ash tree species that grow in the United States belong to the Olive family of plants and have a wide geographic distribution, especially in the East. Ash trees have deciduous compound leaves, with the leaves composed of a long stem called a rachis to which the individual leaflets attach. Ash trees have great ornamental and commercial value, with the light but strong wood valued for such products as baseball bats, furniture and the handles of tools.


White ash is the largest of the ash species in America, with some growing as tall as 120 feet high at one time. The Floridata website states the rich lands these trees existed on gave way to farmland, so now most white ashes reach only around 70 feet. The trunk of a white ash can be 3 feet wide with the 2- to 6-inch long leaflets growing on a rachis that can be as lengthy as 15 inches. Typically, from five to nine leaflets grow on one rachis. Green ash is another common type of ash, growing on occasion to 70 feet high but having smaller leaves, about a foot in length.


Use the various distinct features of the ash trees to help you to identify individual species from one another, which is very difficult because they are quite similar. The leaf color of the white ash is a dark green on the upper leaf surface with a lighter shade on the underside. Green ash leaves are kelly green, according to the University of Connecticut Plant Database website. The inner bark of the blue ash will eventually change to a bluish color when you expose it to the air. Most ash trees possess flowers that lack petals and hang in clusters. These give way to samaras, narrow seedpods resembling insect wings that float down from the tree when ripe, depositing the seeds on the ground.


White ash, green ash, pumpkin ash, blue ash and black ash are all species that grow naturally in the East. White ash has a range covering almost the entire eastern half of the nation with the exception of parts of the mid-Atlantic Coast and southern Florida. Ash species of the West include Texas ash, single leaf ash, fragrant ash, Oregon ash and velvet ash, which has a range that extends from the lower Rocky Mountains well into Mexico.


Plant your ash seedlings or seeds in full sun. Place them in damp, fertile soil if you want the tree to fulfill its growth potential. Do not worry about the pH levels of the ground, as these trees adapt to all types of soils. Transplanting ash trees is easy and the tree will quickly take root and start to grow. Remember that ash trees can tolerate lots of water but not drought.


Purchase landscaping ash cultivar designed to better suit your needs, as they are typically smaller than native ash trees. Try the Jeffnor hybrid, which is seedless and will spare you the chore of cleaning up the samaras after they fall from the branches. Plant the Jungiger type to obtain a seedless white ash that grows quickly and has fine red-violet fall foliage. Opt for Bergeson and Cimmzam for a seedless cultivar of green ash that grows to about 50 feet high.

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