Everything You Need to Know About the Ash Tree

The ash tree is a common variety of tree that grows in many countries around the world. These hardwood trees have an ornamental appearance. It is for this reason why people would choose to have one in their garden. If you want an ash tree in your garden or you already have an established tree of this variety, then here is everything you need to know about growing and caring for an ash tree.

An Overview of Ash Trees

Ash trees are usually deciduous trees, although some species are evergreen. The appearance of an ash tree can vary, depending on the variety. However, most have oval-shaped, pinnate leaves that are a light-green color with toothed edges and hairs on the lower surface. The leaves of an ash tree appear in spring and are then shed in autumn. Depending on the species, the trees can grow to a height of between 32-feet and 100-feet. The leaves and bark of ash trees are believed to have many health benefits.

Types of Ash Trees

According to Gardenerdy.com there are over 60 species of ash tree across the globe. The most common that are native to the United States include:

  • White ash– This is native to northern and eastern regions of the United States and is one of the most common varieties in America. It is one of the tallest varieties of ash trees as it can grow up to 80 feet. It is also known as the Biltmore ash.
  • Green ash– The green ash can grow in a variety of climatic conditions, but it is most commonly found in the northern and eastern regions of the United States. They grow to between 40 and 60 feet and have compound leaves with five to nine leaflets.
  • Velvet ash– Native to north and southwestern regions of the United States, this species is also known as Arizona ash or Modesto ash. They are a good choice if you want a variety that will grow fast, and they grow to between 30 and 50 feet.
  • Black ash– Growing to between 50 and 55 feet, the black ash is native to Eastern Canada and northeastern regions of the United States. The scientific name for this species is Fraxinus nigra.
  • Blue ash-The Fraxinus quadrangulate has this scientific name because of its square trunk. They are usually found in the mid-western area of the United States.
  • Oregon ash– These trees are often compared to the maple tree because the leaves spread outward from the trunk. They are native to the Pacific Northwest region of America.
  • California ash– As the name suggests, this species is native to California. It is also found in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. This is one of the smaller varieties of ash trees as they grow to around 20 feet.
  • Carolina ash– This species is also known by many other names, including pop ash, Florida ash, and swamp ash. They grow to approximately 40 feet and each leaf has between 5ive and seven leaflets.
  • Gregg’s ash– Native to New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, this tree is scientifically called Fraxinus greggii. It is more like a large shrub than a tree as it grows to a height of between 10 and 20 feet.
  • Pumpkin ash– This tree gets its name from its trunk because the base of the trunk swells in the shape of a pumpkin when it gets wet. It is native to northern and eastern parts of the United States and grows to a height of between 80 and 100 feet. Therefore, it is one of the tallest ash tree species.
    Other common varieties that are not native to the United States but can grow in this country include:
  • European ash– The scientific name of the European ash is Fraxinus excelsior. Although they are native to Scandinavia, they now grow in most parts of Europe and in southwestern Asia. These are a taller species of ash tree and can grow up to 70 feet.
  • Manna Ash– These trees are most commonly found in southwestern Asia and Europe. They are a medium variety of ash that can grow to 50 feet. The flowers of the manna ash are white and not purple like most other varieties. The sap of this tree is sweet and is extracted for medicinal purposes.
  • Narrow-leaf ash– The native regions of the narrow-leaf ash are south and central Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia. They generally grow between 60 and 80 feet, although this depends on climatic and soil conditions. This variety is also known as the desert ash, Raywood ash, or claret ash.
    Identifying an Ash Tree

If you move home and there are trees in the garden that you did not plant, you may not know which variety of trees you have in the garden. It is important to know the types of trees you are growing so that you can care for your trees properly. Here are some tips for identifying an ash tree:

  • Buds– One of the key identifying features of an ash tree is its buds. The buds grow in groups of three. There is a larger bud at the tip of the shoot and an opposite pair of smaller buds a little further back. The buds are a sooty-gray color.
  • Leaves – Each leaflet usually contains three to six pairs of light-green-oval leaves with a long tip. There is an extra leaflet at the end, which is called the terminal leaflet. An unusual feature of ash leaves is that they fall while they are still green, rather than waiting to turn brown.
  • Flowers– Usually, male and female flowers grow on different trees, but some ash trees have both male and female flowers on separate branches. The tiny purple flowers grow in spiked clusters grow on the tips of the twigs.
  • Bark– A young ash tree has a smooth silvery-gray bark. As the tree becomes older, the bark lightens to a beige-gray. Older trees have more pronounces fissures along the bark. Lichens sometimes grow on the bark of an ash tree, and this covers the natural color of the bark.

The Woodland Trust says that ash trees are sometimes mistaken for Rowan or elder trees. The differentiating features are that elder trees have fewer leaflets, while the leaves of rowan trees are serrated.

Why Choose Ash Trees?

There are two main reasons why you would choose an ash tree for your garden. The first is their appearance. You can create an interesting focal point by adding an ash tree as they are elegant trees with lush green leaves. Secondly, these trees need very little care, which means that they are just as good for novice gardeners as for those with plenty of gardening experience.

Choosing a Spot for Ash Trees

According to Nature & Garden, there are two main things to consider when choosing a spot for your ash tree. The first is to find a spot that has good access to sunlight. The second is to make sure you find a spot where the ash tree will not become impeded in the future. This means it should be away from other trees and not close to the walls. Ash trees will grow well in most soil conditions, so you do not need to choose the spot based on the soil type.

How to Plant an Ash Tree from a Sapling

Once you have chosen your spot, you can plant your ash tree using the following steps:

  1. Dig a hole that is large enough to comfortably sit the clump of roots, ensuring that the soil will completely cover them.
  2. Before putting the tree into the hole, wet the clump of roots.
  3. Put the clump of roots in the hole so that the top of the root clump is in line with the top of the soil.
  4. Pat the soil down firmly around the roots and water abundantly.

Propagating Ash Trees Through Sowing

  1. Propagating an ash tree through sowing is different from planting a sapling. However, it is still a simple process if you use the following tips:
  2. Fall is the best time to plant your ash tree seed so that it can begin growing before the cold winter months hit.
  3. Plant the seed in a nursery pot by pushing it just a few inches into the soil, covering with soil and then watering.
  4. Inserting a small stick next to the seed in the pot can offer the young ash tree some support.
  5. Wait until the colder winter months are over before transferring your ash tree to your garden.
  6. Use the same steps as planting a sapling.

How Fast Do Ash Trees Grow?

You may wonder how fast an ash tree will grow from planting it in your garden. The answer to this question depends on the species of ash tree you are growing, as each species has a different growth rate, according to Home Guides. Growing conditions can also impact on the rate of growth. However, they are one of the fastest growing trees, and this is why they are grown for timber as it is possible to grow more trees quickly to fulfill demand. As a general guide, the average ash tree will grow between 18 and 25 feet in a decade. Depending on the species and conditions, an ash tree will reach its full height in between 16 and 60 years.

Tips for Caring for Your Ash Tree

Ash trees are a great choice for a larger garden because they need hardly any care. These tips can help you maintain the health of your ash tree.

  • Ash trees can live in most types of soil without the need to use fertilizer. However, if the soil is extremely poor, you should add a small dose of fertilizer during the first few months.
  • Ash trees have growth spurts in spring and bloom from March to May. At the beginning of spring, you need to remover undesirable buds.
  • Branches that are growing well need their tips snipping to stop them growing too much.
  • Unless you live in a particularly dry area, you will not need to water your ash tree as it will survive on the water it receives from rainfall.

Pruning an Ash Tree

Strictly speaking, ash trees do not usually need pruning. It will naturally develop an elegant shape if you do not prune the tree. Although it does not need pruning, removing fragile branches and dead wood can help it to thrive. If you decide to prune the tree, you should do so in October.

Ash Trees, Diseases, and Pests

There are two main threats to ash trees. The European ash is prone to a type of fungus that leads to ash dieback. In Denmark, 90 percent of the European ash trees died as a result of this infection. It has also affected trees in the United Kingdom. For this reason, ash trees are at risk of extinction in Europe. The other threat is a wood-boring beetle known as the emerald ash borer. In the late 1980s, these beetles were accidentally introduced to North America from Asia. In 15 states of the United States and in Ontario, Canada, millions of trees have died because of this beetle. To combat this problem, experimental research using Asian wasps in underway. The three types of Asian wasps are predators of beetles, so it is possible that they can play an important role in beetle biological control.

Harvesting an Ash Tree

If you wish to harvest the leaves of your ash tree, it is recommended to choose young leaves that are secreting a gummy substance. You should do this between May and June. On the other hand, if you want to harvest some bark, then you should wait until fall. Dry your harvested leaves or bark in a spot that is both dry and well ventilated.

Ash Trees- The Final Verdict

Ash trees are a great choice for a larger garden as they are an elegant tree that grows quickly and needs very little care. There are several varieties of ash tree from which you can choose for your garden, and each has its own pros and cons. An ash tree is quickly established, so it takes very little time for an ash tree to become an interesting feature of a garden.


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