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Fraxinus americana

Common Name(s):
White ash
'Autumn Purple', 'Rose Hill', 'Autumn Applause', 'Autumn Blaze', 'Chicago Regal'
Native Plants, Trees

Fraxinus americana, the White Ash (family Oleaceae), is a large, deciduouss shade tree that can attain 100 feet in height and 75 feet in width. Its shape is upright but becomes more rounded and open as the tree matures. Because of its imposing size it is best suited to expansive lawn areas or parks. The bark is yellow-brown to ight gray and corky with deep furrows that separate short, pointed ridges.

Ash trees have male and female flowers on separate trees and only the female flowers develop into fruits. Purchasing male trees will prevent you from having to deal with the fruits which can be a bit of a nuisance near a walkway. It is worth considering planting female ash trees though, because the fruits are born in clusters among the foliage and add a sophisticated note of unusual dimension to the trees in late summer.

The cultivars of White Ash are generally much more desirable than seedling trees and are well worth seeking out. A few of the many excellent ones include: 'Autumn Applause' - known for its maroon fall color, dense branching and gracefully drooping foliage, 'Autumn Blaze' - a female selection with purple fall color, 'Autumn Purple' - a male with excellent displays of purple-red foliage in the fall, and 'Chicago Regal' - a vigorous grower which develops purple fall color.

The White ash is the largest of the native ashes.  

White Ash is a valuable timber tree  Its wood is commercially used for a variety of products including tool handles, oars, garden furniture and sports equipment.  White ash is the wood used for the Louisville Slugger baseball bat.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

     Leaves: Fall; Fruit/Seed: Summer

Wildlife Value: The seeds of the White ash are enjoyed by birds, squirrel, and other small mammals.  White ash is a larval plant for tiger swallowtail and mourning cloak butterflies.  The bark is eaten by rabbits, porcupines and beavers.  The foilage is browsed by white-tailed deer.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Pest Problems:   Emerald ash borer will will typically kill an ash tree within 3-5 years after inestation  One infestation accurs, it is difficult to eradicate this pest which feeds under the bark and bores into the wood.  Other potential problems are ash borer, lilac borer, carpenter worm, oyster shell scale, leaf miners, fall websworms, ash sawflies and ash leaf curl aphid.  Potential disease problems include fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew, rst, anthracnose, cankers and ash yellows.  General ash decline is also a concern.  Brittle branches are susceptible to damage from high winds, snow and ice.

Planting new ash trees is no longer recommended due to the trees susceptibilty to the emerald ash borer.

Compare this species to: Fraxinus pennsylvanica


60-100 ft.
The flowers are primarily dioecious (separate male and female trees). Clusters of apetalous purplish male and female flowers appear on separate trees in April-May before the late-to-emerge foliage. Fertilized female flowers give way to drooping clusters of winged samara (to 2" long) that ripen in fall and may persist on the tree throughout the winter.
The white ash tree is best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun. It has moderate drought tolerance. It is best sited in locations protected from strong winds. Also, generally tolerant of urban conditions, particularly if well-sited in the landscape. Also tolerant of neutral to slightly alkaline soil conditions.
Modestly pyramidal to upright; broad, rounded head
One-winged samara
50-80 ft.
Growth Rate:
The leaf of the white ash are odd-pinnate compound leaves with 7 leaflets (less frequently 5 or 9). Oval to oblong-lanceolate leaflets (3-5" long) are dark green above and whitish green below The foliage turns yellow with purple shading in the fall.
play, cpp, tsc, deciduous, wildilfe, fall color, birds, playground, butterflies, larval plant, children’s garden

NCCES plant id: 1999

Fraxinus americana Fraxinus americana
Fraxinus americana Flower
S.B. Johnny, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Fraxinus americana Leaves
Virens, CC BY - 2.0
Fraxinus americana Bark
Derek Ramsey, CC BY-SA - 4.0
Fraxinus americana Fruit