2015

 
 

When one is searching for a handsome shade tree it's only natural to think of ash trees. They have excellent form, fine summer foliage and spectacular autumn color. The most popular ones are White ash (Fraxinus americana) and Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), both from North America, and England's Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior). There are, however, two aspects of these trees that are worth noting, or, one thing they have and one thing they don’t have. The thing that they have is great size. All three of these ashes exceed 60 feet, sometimes a hundred, with a spread of 50 more feet. Obviously this makes them grand shade trees, but only for country properties and parks, and not today's smaller plots. The other noteworthy thing about these popular ashes is their lack of something, and this is their lack of spring bloom. It’s not actually a lack of bloom, but an insignificance. It is simply not a factor and that applies to all three of these ash trees that are so popular around the world. But, there is an ash tree that is hardly ever planted and yet is far more versatile and generally regarded as the most ornamental of all ashes and this is the Flowering ash, or Manna ash, Fraxinus ornus.

Manna ash is a medium sized, deciduous tree from Asia Minor, Western Asia and Southern Europe. It only grows 30 to 40 feet tall, with a similar spread, making it better suited to today's urban gardens. And as the name Flowering ash implies, it is famous for its bloom, which consist of big, showy clusters of white flowers that decorate the tree in spring. And not only does it have the advantage of a spring display, but it also has a fragrant spring display. And the subsequent seeds also make it a wildlife friendly choice. The seeds, or samaras, are quite attractive too, phasing from green to purple to brown in winter. There is also the usual autumn foliage display one expects of an ash tree, with the leaves turning green to yellow to red and then purple before falling.

From a landscaping perspective, Manna ash has a more polished look than its bigger cousins, being more round-headed and symmetrical, and since it rarely exceeds 40 feet, it will never overwhelm adjacent structures.

In addition to its attractiveness Manna ash grows on either alkaline or acidic soil, wet or dry and is drought tolerant once established. And it is disease and pest resistant as well, though in the areas of North America presently infested with Emerald ash tree borer, (an Asian import currently wreaking havoc on ash trees) it's use should be well considered.

Manna ash is well adapted to southern Australia, New Zealand and the UK. In the US it does better in the milder coastal areas where the summers are not too hot, also making it suitable for Canada's British Columbia and Lower Ontario.

Mysteriously, this beautiful and adaptable tree is rarely offered in the nursery trade but may be found in the better specialty nurseries.

Manna ash/Flowering ash

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Trees for:  Acid soils     Clay soils      Poor soils      Seashore      Dry soils     Cold soils      Wet soils     Alkaline soilsTrees_for_acid_soils.htmlTrees_for_clay_soils.htmlTrees_for_poor_soils.htmlTrees_for_seashore.htmlTrees_for_dry_soils.htmlTrees_for_Cold-exposed_areas.htmlTrees_for_wet_soils.htmlTrees_for_alkaline_soils.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2shapeimage_4_link_3shapeimage_4_link_4shapeimage_4_link_5shapeimage_4_link_6shapeimage_4_link_7
Trees by size                               Special features                                Forms of treesTrees_by_size.htmlSpecial_features.htmlForms_of_trees.htmlshapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1shapeimage_5_link_2