Ash trees are in the genus Fraxinus and are members of the olive family, Oleaceae. There are 45-65 species which are typically large and deciduous. Ashes are also noted for the hardness of their wood as these are the tree from which both baseball and cricket bats are made. And the common name, Ash, is Old English for spear.

Some of the largest ashes are from the forests of Canada and the United States, and one of the most impressive of these is the White ash, or Fraxinus americana.

This tree is native to moist locations, including river bottoms as well as better drained upland sites and will produce a good seed crop every two to three years which is a blessing to wildlife. Most importantly, White ash is a superior, large shade tree with an upright oval growth habit in youth, quickly maturing to a more rounded habit in maturity. Ultimate size is variable but a mature tree at about 70 feet tall by 70 feet wide is about average, which means it's better suited to larger properties. Under sunny conditions, with deep, fertile, slightly acidic soil, constantly moist, it has a rapid growth rate.

The foliage is typically 7 leaflets of a medium to dark green which, in autumn, progress from vivid yellow to orange, maroon, red, and finally burgundy or purple, making the White ash one of the best choices for autumn color. White ash is dioecious meaning only female trees bear fruits, which are winged seeds, or samaras. However, the better cultivars which have more consistent and superior characteristics are exclusively male, meaning no seeds produced. A disappointment to wildlife but better for the more fastidious groundskeeper.

White ash and its cultivars, such as 'Autumn Purple', are ideal specimen or shade trees, possessing symmetry and stateliness as well as brilliant autumn color. White ash has a natural range from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico. It has been grown in the UK since 1724. It is also well suited to New Zealand and temperate Australia.

There is also the impressive Manna ash, Fraxinus ornus.


White ash

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