Ash Trees

Ash trees are vital food sources for local wildlife, especially frogs. Tadpoles depend on ash leaves as they mature. Additionally, many other animals use the ash for shelter and sustenance. The ash genus contains between 45 and 65 species of mostly large trees. A majority are deciduous, but a few select species are evergreen. You will find them growing across most of the Northern Hemisphere. The North American, Asian, and European continents all home ash trees.

We know ash trees around the world for their helicopter seeds. The seeds look like little helicopters falling to the ground. On the other hand, many insects threaten the ash. In North America, the biggest threat is an invasive species from Asia. Estimations state the emerald ash borer has destroyed millions of trees since its introduction in the 1980s.

Finally, the ash is a dense wood with excellent applications as baseball bats, tools, and even as guitars. However, carpenters do not use ash in outdoor applications because it rots with ground contact. Overall, the ash is a durable tree with properties, making it suitable as an ornamental tree or for woodworking applications.

So How Many Kinds of Ash Tree are There?

The ash is known scientifically as the Fraxinus genus. Scientists estimate between 45 and 65 species belong to the Fraxinus genus. Furthermore, the genus is part of the Oleaceae family. The genus contains both deciduous and evergreen species. We divide the species into seven sections. Below is a list of some popular ash on each continent.

North America

  • Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)
  • Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
  • White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
  • Blue Ash (Fraxinum quadrangulate)
  • California Ash (Fraxinus dipetala)

Europe

  • European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
  • Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus L.)

Asia

  • Chinese Ash (Fraxinus chinesis)
  • Japanese Ash (Fraxinus lanuginosa)
  • Afghan Ash (Fraxinus xanthoxyloides)

Other Locations

  • Mexican Ash (Fraxinus berlandieriana)
  • Chihuahua Ash (Fraxinus papillosa)
  • Tropical Ash (Fraxinus uhdei)

How Large Do Ash Trees Grow?

Botanists categorize as trees as fast-growing trees. On average, ash trees grow between 18 inches and 2 feet a year. However, some species grow at slower rates. Overall, ash are late to reach maturity. Most ash species do not reach maturity until they are close to 50 feet in height. Some species do not reach maturity until they are over 80 feet tall.

According to botanists at NC State University, the white ash will reach maturity around 60 feet and will continue to grow up to 120 feet tall. Additionally, the trunk grows to 3 feet in diameter.

What Does an Ash Tree Look Like?

The twigs and branches of an ash are gray. Although, some species display a color closer to light brown. Additionally, the branches grow directly across from one another.

The leaves are usually smooth with some being finely toothed. All in all, the leaves vary in color from light to dark green, but often have a waxy look to them. They typically grow in groups along a stem between 5 and 9 leaves to a group.

The bark on saplings and young trees is smooth. However, as the ash matures, the bark becomes grooved.

The ash does not produce cones. It produces smaller seeds that look like oars or toy helicopters.

ash tree seed

Overall, ash grow tall with thick, sturdy trunks. Many homeowners and gardeners use the ash as an ornamental tree. However, it is at significant risk of threats and will need to be protected as it grows.

Where Can I Find An Ash Tree?

The entire ash genus grows across the Northern Hemisphere.

Almost all the continental United States and large portions of Canada are homes to the ash. According to the USDA, Mississippi takes the prize for the most ash at 329 million ash currently living. However, Eastern Asian shipments of wood introduced the emerald ash borer to the United States. The population of ash across North America is under great threat. Scientists estimate that millions of trees have already been destroyed in the 40 years since the emerald ash borer appeared.

In Europe, ash are incredibly common. Most countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Turkey, boast ash. In fact, ash is one of the most common trees growing today. Sadly, the ash in the Europe are also under attack. A fatal disease has struck the ash population. Known as the ash dieback, botanists currently estimate that close to 95% of the ash trees will die from this disease.

Additionally, there are native ash in Asia. China, Japan, and Russia. The emerald ash borer is a threat where it originated from as well. However, the trees in Asia are showing some special characteristics. The DNA of ash in Asia shows a resistance to the emerald ash borer. Scientists are still trying to figure out how to help the ash population suffering.

How Long Can an Ash Tree Live?

The ash lives a long life. Furthermore, they live up to 300 years. The lifespan changes from continent to continent. At the same time, the average lifespan for all the genus is 250 years. The oldest ash in the world grows in the United States and scientists estimate it to be 350 years old.

Can I Grow an Ash Tree?

With the widespread growth of ash naturally, it is relatively easy to grow on your own. If you plan to start with a seed, you will want to collect many to get just a few trees.

Like most trees, start your seeds in a plant. This will help you protect your ash from unexpected frosts.

Your seed will grow quickly if you give it ample water. Also, the seedling will demand a moist soil until late summer. Ultimately, the ash does not like acidic soils. With the quick growth of the ash, you will see excellent progress in the first year.

Once your seedling is close to two feet tall, you will transplant it outside. Find a spot in your yard where it will receive full sun.

With a prime location, you will need to put a little effort into caring for your ash.

It is Time to BRANCH out into some fun tree facts

  • The Emerald Ash Borer is decimating the ash population in North America.
  • About 8% of trees growing in New York State are ash trees.

What Are Some Uses for Ash Trees?

Natural Uses

The ash is a huge part of many ecosystems. Countless animals and insects depend on the ash tree for a place to live and for food.

Historically, people used ash to tree constipation, bladder issues, and fever. Also, midwives use it to heal a newborn umbilical hernia. Many treated snake bites with black ash tree leaves as an antidote. Folklore states that snakes even fear the shade of the ash tree projects.

Artistic Uses

Europeans burn ash wood to ward off evil spirits. Poets and songwriters throughout history mention the ash. A traditional Welsh song, “The Ash Grove”, is known by many variations of lyrics, but most mention ash trees.

Residential/Commercial Uses

We consider the wood from an ash to be a hardwood. Not only is it like the oak tree, but it is very easy to work with. The range of uses for the wood is wide. Furthermore, the wood stains beautifully. The grain is light and straight, making it absorb stain evenly. With the wide growth across North America, wood is easy to find and so it has always been economical to purchase.

Flooring, doors, molding, and millwork are all built using ash wood. Because of its durability, it will take little upkeep if used in your home. However, this indoor durability does not correlate with outdoor applications. Experts rate ash poorly for ground contact as it rots easily. Professional athletes also crave ash for their equipment. Both hockey sticks and baseball bats are crafted from ash wood.

Wrap Up

Ash trees are beautiful specimens that you will find growing across the Northern Hemisphere. All things consider, we will quickly lose the ash tree population in North America and Europe. The emerald ash borer is threatening the North American population and will probably destroy 98% of the population. Also, the ash dieback is destroying the European population and will destroy a similar number of trees. With between 45-65 species in the genus, the number of trees that will be destroyed over the next two decades is staggering.

Moreover, they are easy to grow. While your ash tree will be under threat, there are some treatments if your tree were to be infected. You will find splendid success and a quick growth when you plant your ash tree from a seed. Many still use the ash tree in their backyards and gardens because they grow quickly and are strong and beautiful trees. As a species, we will need to learn how to protect the ash tree population before it is eradicated.

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