White Ash

Young white ash (4/25/23)
Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
The White Ash tree is native to eastern and central North America and is home to many different wildlife species, including birds, squirrels, and insects.
Lexi Dalrymple, Nicole Vayman
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Date of tree entry: 
1.40 m
There are too many multiple trunks to accurately measure the DBH, so this is just an estimate
The bark is yellow-brown to light gray and corky with deep furrows that separate short, pointed ridges.
Twigs & branches
Twigs are moderate in diameter, gray or brown in color and have leaf scars which are half-round in shape with a conspicuous v-shaped notch in the top.
As our tree is young and we began observations in the winter, there is little foilage on our tree. However, they will grow to be 8 to 12 inch long leaves that are odd-pinnate compound leaves with 7 leaflets (or occasionally 5 or 9). There are also oval to oblong-lanceolate leaflets (3 to 5 inches long) that are dark green above and whitish green below with smooth margins. This foliage turns yellow with purple shading in the fall, which is part of the trees popularity in urban environments. In nature, this foilage is also important to white tail deer.
Reproductive Structures
Ash trees have male and female flowers on separate trees. However, only the female flowers develop into fruits, with the fruit being a samara containing a seed positioned at its base. The seed of the White Ash germinates on the surface, usually in the spring in moist areas at warm temperatures. The seeds need high-light conditions to reach full maturity but can survive in the shade for a few years. The seeds of a White Ash are dormant in cold weather conditions, and the tree itself is deciduous and sheds its leaves in the cold. Small, light green to purple flowers, with no petals, mature in loose panicles in the spring.
The fruit is a samara, which often persists on the tree into winter. The samara is a winged, dry, and flattened seed with a full, rounded, seed cavity that matures in the fall. It floats into the air and can pollinate male ash trees in the vicinity.
  • April 25, 2023 (spring: growing buds)
  • April 19, 2023 (spring: starting to blossom)
  • February 8, 2023 (winter)
Natural range of distribution: 
This species is native to mesophytic hardwood forests from west Nova Scotia to Minnesota, south to northern Florida, and southwest to eastern Texas. It has also been naturalized in Hawaii.
Origin, history, and uses: 

White ash widely used for everyday purposes and, to keep up with high demand, is highly cultivated almost everywhere possible it grows. It is highly perishable, however, so it is mostly used for things such as baseball bats, tool handles, lobster traps, and furniture. They are reportedly the most common street tree in Chicago in 2010. It is sometimes planted in new areas for its consistently reliable autumn colors, as it typically shows bright orange and red hues as opposed to other species of ash that produce a uniform yellow color. The juice from leaves used on mosquito bites for relief of swelling and itching and are a prophylactic measure for snake bitesAdditionally, it serves as a food source for tadpoles and frogs in North America when planted near aquatic environments. This plant supports the larvae of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilo glaucus), which have three flights from February-November in the deep south and March-September in the north. 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 in addition to frogs, and the foliage is browsed by white-tailed deer.

White ash is dioecious, with flowers that appear with or just before the leaves in April and May. A good seed crop is produced about every three years, and the time between the first noticeable enlargement of the male flower buds until shedding is 2 to 3 weeks. Pollen shedding from an individual tree usually takes 3 or 4 days, and the pollen is carried by wind as far as about 328 ft from the point of dispersion. Vegetative buds begin to enlarge in April or May. Height growth is 90 percent complete in 30 days, and 100 percent complete in 60 days. Diameter growth generally continues until August. Young white ash exhibits strong apical dominance. Thrifty open-grown seedlings about 6.6 ft tall often have only two or three pairs of lateral branches, and sometimes none. If the terminal bud is removed, apical dominance is altered and new branches develop from the uppermost pair of lateral buds. Generally, one of these grows faster than the other and soon assumes apical control. Depending on the amount of root competition, a field-grown white ash tree in full sunlight may take from 3 to 15 years to become 1.5 m (5 ft) tall. By then, its root system is usually well established and white ash is able to grow rapidly even if surrounded by weeds.

Fraxinus americana. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2023, from https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/fraxinus-americana/

Once-abundant ash tree and antelope species face extinction – IUCN red list. (2022, June 27). Retrieved April 20, 2023, from https://www.iucn.org/news/secretariat/201709/once-abundant-ash-tree-and-…

Schlesinger, R. C. (n.d.). Fraxinus americana L. Retrieved April 20, 2023, from https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/misc/ag_654/volume_2/fraxinus/americana…

White ash. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2023, from https://naturalresources.extension.iastate.edu/forestry/iowa_trees/trees…

Image on geographic distribution from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraxinus_americana 

Media and Arts
This is a YouTube video on how to ID a white ash tree.
Shrub Canopy Area: