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Water Ash Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Water Ash:

Phonetic Spelling
FRAK-si-nus pen-sil-VAN-ih-kuh
Description

Fraxinus pennsylvanica, or Green Ash, is a deciduous tree that may grows to 65 feet and occasionally to 120 feet tall with a trunk 2 to 3/1/2 feet across. Young trees with soft silky hairs covering twigs, undersides of leaves, and leaf stalks are commonly known as Red Ash. Mature trees with smooth leaves and branches are known as Green Ash.

The leaves are opposite and pinnately compound with 7 to 9 leaflets. The bark is gray-brown with shallow furrows and crisscrossing ridges which form x-patterns. Small, light green to purple flowers, with no petals, mature in loose panicles in early spring. The female tree produces a single-winged, dry, flattened samara with a slender, thin seed cavity that matures in the fall. These can be numerous and can make a mess when they fall to the ground. Male trees are usually preferred in the home landscape because they do not produce fruit.

This plant is the most widely distributed of all the ash tree species, transplants well and grows in a variety of locations and soils. They are also very adaptable as they tolerate drought, wind, moderate salt, and alkaline soil. It is often found in bottom lands and swamps, especially along brown water rivers and low ground of the Piedmont and lower North Carolina mountains, but rarely on mesic upland disturbed sites

Insects, Diseases, and Other Pest Problems:  Planting new green ash trees is no longer recommended given the susceptibility of this tree to the emerald ash borer. The Emerald ash borer will typically kill an ash tree within 3 to 5 years after infestation. Once infestation occurs, it is very difficult to eradicate this pest which feeds under the bark and bores into wood. Emerald ash borer is native to Asia and was first discovered in the U.S. in 2002. It has now spread to a number of additional states in the northeast and upper Midwest, and is expected to continue spreading. This borer now constitutes a serious threat to all species of ash in North America. Green ash trees are generally susceptible to a number of additional insect problems including ash borer, lilac borer, carpenter worm, oyster shell scale, leaf miners, fall web worms, ash sawflies, and ash leaf curl aphid. Potential disease problems include fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew, rust, anthracnose, cankers, and ash yellows. General ash decline is also a concern. Brittle branches are susceptible to damage from high winds and snow/ice.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Cimmzan'
    Seedless selection notable for its uniform upright growth habit, good fall color - red and orange shades.
  • 'Patmore'
    Seedless, good disease and insect resistance and handsome, uniform habit. Fall color is yellow.
  • 'Summit'
    Male cultivar, vigorous, pyramidal tree that produces a strong central leader.
  • var. Dakota Centennial Lanceolata
'Cimmzan', 'Patmore', 'Summit', var. Dakota Centennial Lanceolata
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#shade tree#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#salt tolerant#rabbit resistant#windbreak#park#street tree#playground#small mammals#food source#cpp#wind tolerant#low flammability#NC native#beavers#porcupines#deer resistant#children's garden#fire resistant#edible seeds#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Cimmzan'
    Seedless selection notable for its uniform upright growth habit, good fall color - red and orange shades.
  • 'Patmore'
    Seedless, good disease and insect resistance and handsome, uniform habit. Fall color is yellow.
  • 'Summit'
    Male cultivar, vigorous, pyramidal tree that produces a strong central leader.
  • var. Dakota Centennial Lanceolata
'Cimmzan', 'Patmore', 'Summit', var. Dakota Centennial Lanceolata
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#shade tree#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#salt tolerant#rabbit resistant#windbreak#park#street tree#playground#small mammals#food source#cpp#wind tolerant#low flammability#NC native#beavers#porcupines#deer resistant#children's garden#fire resistant#edible seeds#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Fraxinus
    Species:
    pennsylvanica
    Family:
    Oleaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Wood is heavy, hard, strong, and coarse grained. Used for tools, wood floors, and furniture.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Canada to Western, Central and Eastern United States.
    Distribution:
    Extending from Nova Scotia to Alberta south to Florida and Texas. Throughout most of U.S. except western states.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The Green ash is a host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly and many moths.  The bark is eaten by rabbits, porcupines, and beavers.  Its foliage is browsed by white-tailed deer, seeds are eaten by birds, squirrels, and other small mammals.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Edible fruit
    Pieces Used in Games
    Shade
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wind Break
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Fire in the landscape. Resistant to heat, drought, and soil compaction.
    Edibility:
    Bark can be used in cooking as a thickener for soups or mixed with grain in making bread.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 100 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 35 ft. 0 in. - 65 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Irregular
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Samara
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Fertilized female flowers give way to drooping clusters of winged samaras (to 2 inches long) that ripen in fall and may persist on the tree throughout winter. Samaras have wings extending less than half body length. Samaras in large numbers, 1 to 2 inches long and narrow, color changes from green to tan as they mature. Fruit displays from August to October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The Green ash is primarily dioecious (separate male and female trees). Clusters of small, apetalous purplish male and female flowers appear on separate trees in April-May after the foliage emerges.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The 6 to 9 inch opposite, odd-pinnate compound leaves, with 5 to 9 entire leaflets. Oval to oblong-lanceolate leaflets (3 to 4 inches long) are medium green above and below. The foliage turns yellow in fall, with the quality of the fall color often varying considerably from year to year.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    The bark is a 1/2 inch or more thick, gray-brown with shallow furrows and crisscrossing ridges which form x-patterns.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Description:
    Grey and stout, leaf scars. Dark rusty brown, woolly, conspicuous.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Fire
    Rabbits
    Salt
    Wind