Richard C. Schlesinger
White ash (Fraxinus americana), also called Biltmore ash or Biltmore white ash, is the most common and useful native ash but is never a dominant species in the forest. It grows best on rich, moist, well-drained soils to medium size. Because white ash wood is tough, strong, and highly resistant to shock, it is particularly sought for handles, oars, and baseball bats. The winged seeds provide food for many kinds of birds.
General: Olive family (Oleaceae). Native trees growing to 20-30 m tall, maintaining a central leader (strong apical dominance) in youth with an even distribution of branches, developing a dense, conical or rounded crown at maturity. The trunk is long, straight, and free of branches for most of its length (except when open grown). The bark is thick, dark gray, with a uniform, diamond-shaped ridge and furrow pattern. Leaves are deciduous, opposite, pinnately compound, 20-38 cm long, leaflets usually 7(5-9), short-stalked, ovate to ovate-lanceolate or elliptic, acuminate, 6-13 cm long and 3-6 cm wide, sometimes with a few teeth near the tip, dark green and smooth above, whitish below. Flowers are numerous, very small, green to purplish, in small branched clusters near the branch tips, usually either male (staminate) or female (pistillate), a single tree usually bearing only one sex (the species dioecious). Fruits are samaras 2.5-5 cm long, hanging in clusters, with a narrow wing extending about 1/3-1/4 of the way down the cylindrical body. The common name is in reference to the white color of the wood.
This species flowers in April-May, the male first, before appearance of the leaves; fruiting August-October, the seeds dispersed September-November. The pollen is already airborne during the 7-10 days when the female flowers are receptive.
Variation within the species: A number of variants have been described within the species, including F. americana var. biltmoreana (Beadle) J. Wright ex Fern. (= F. biltmoreana Beadle) and F. americana var. microcarpa A. Gray, but the distinctions between these have not been generally confirmed and formal variants are not currently recognized. Diploids (2n=46), tetraploids (2n=92), and hexaploids (2n=138) occur within the species, but it is difficult to associate differences in ploidy level with other patterns of variation.
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Occurrence in North America
KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO NE
NH NJ NC OH OK PA RI SC TN TX
VT VA WV WI NB NS ON PQ
west to eastern Minnesota and south to Texas and northern Florida .
It is cultivated in Hawaii .
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
14 Great Plains
-The native range of white ash.
White ash grows over most of eastern North America, absent only from the outer Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains. It occurs from Nova Scotia west to eastern Minnesota and south to Texas and northern Florida, northward barely into southern Quebec and Ontario. It is cultivated in Hawaii. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
White ash is a native, deciduous, long-lived tree . Leaves are
compound, 8 to 15 inches (20-38 cm) in length, and usually have seven
oval, entire leaflets . White ash is dioecious. The male flowers
bloom first, before the leaf buds break. The pollen is already airborne
during the 7 to 10 days when the female flowers are receptive [10,32].
The flowers are borne in panicles near branch tips. White ash will
start to flower when it is 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm) in d.b.h., but
abundant flowering does not occur until the tree is 8 to 10 inches
(20-25 cm) .
White ash obtains heights of 60 to 70 feet (18-21 m). The bole is long,
straight and free of branches for most of its length, and the crown is
narrow and pyramidal when grown in a mixed stand. Open-grown specimens
have a short bole with a rounded crown .
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
More info for the term: swamp
19 Gray birch - red maple
20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple
21 Eastern white pine
22 White pine - hemlock
23 Eastern hemlock
24 Hemlock - yellow birch
25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
26 Sugar maple - basswood
27 Sugar maple
28 Black cherry - maple
33 Red spruce - balsam fir
39 Black ash - American elm - red maple
42 Bur oak
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
57 Yellow poplar
58 Yellow poplar - eastern hemlock
59 Yellow poplar - white oak - northern red oak
60 Beech - sugar maple
64 Sassafras - persimmon
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
87 Sweet gum - yellow poplar
91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K084 Cross Timbers
K089 Black Belt
K090 Live oak - sea oats
K091 Cypress savanna
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K099 Maple - basswood forest
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K101 Elm - ash forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
hardwoods . In the Northeast white ash occurs on middle mesophytic
slopes, and it is reduced or lacking on dry, cold ridges and
mountaintops. White ash occurs on slightly elevated ridges in the
floodplains of major streams in the Coastal Plain and on slopes along
major streams in the Central States .
Soil: White ash has a strong affinity for soils high in nitrogen and
Climate: Climate varies widely within white ash's range. The
frost-free period ranges from 90 to 270 days. Annual precipitation
ranges from 30 to 60 inches (76-152 cm) per year. Snow depths vary from
0 to more than 100 inches (254 cm) .
Elevation: White ash grows from near sea level on the Coastal Plain to
3,450 feet (1,050 m) in the Cumberland Mountains .
Associates: White ash's primary associates are eastern white pine
(Pinus strobus), northern red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Q. alba),
sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (A. rubrum), yellow birch
(Betula alleghaniensis), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), black
cherry (Prunus serotina), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and yellow
poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) .
Understory associates are downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea),
pawpaw (Asimina triloba), American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana),
flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), and eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
FRES19 Aspen - birch
Key Plant Community Associations
the habitat type classification of upper Michigan and northwestern
Soils and Topography
White ash grows most commonly on fertile soils with a high nitrogen content and a moderate to high calcium content. Nutrient culture results show that an absence of nitrogen reduces seedling dry weight by 38 percent compared to seedlings grown in complete nutrient solution, and that calcium is the second most important macroelement, followed by sulfur (3). Its pH tolerance varies from 5.0 to 7.5.
Soil moisture is an important factor affecting local distribution. Best growth occurs on moderately well drained soils, including areas underlain by compacted glacial till; light textured, well drained, glacial drift; and sandy to clay loam soils in which roots can penetrate to a depth of 40 cm (16 in) or more. Although rarely found in swamps, white ash is intermediately tolerant of temporary flooding.
White ash is found in various topographic situations. It grows from near sea level in the southeastern Coastal Plain to about 1050 m (3,450 ft) in the Cumberland Mountains and up to 600 m (1,970 ft) in New York's Adirondack Mountains. In the hilly and mountainous areas of the Northeast, it grows on the mesophytic lower and middle slopes, usually stopping short of both the dry, oak-pine ridgetops and the cold, spruce-fir mountain tops. In the Coastal Plain, white ash usually is limited to the slightly elevated ridges in the floodplains of major streams. In the Central States it is most common on slopes along major streams, less common in upland situations, and rarely found in the flat bottoms of major streams or in depressions (16).
Adaptation: White ash grows best on deep, well-drained, moist soils with other hardwoods at elevations of about 0-1050 meters. It rarely forms pure stands. It occurs on middle slopes in the Northeast, on slightly elevated ridges in the floodplains of major streams in the coastal plain, and on slopes along major streams in the central states. Primary associates are eastern white pine, northern red oak, white oak, sugar maple, red maple, yellow birch, American beech, black cherry, eastern hemlock, and yellow poplar.
White ash is primarily characteristic of early and intermediate stages of succession. The seedlings are shade tolerant but can also establish in full sun. Mature individuals are shade intolerant – after persisting for a few years in moderately dense shade, trees developing inside closed stands reach the overstory by responding quickly to openings in the canopy.
General: White ash begins producing seed at a minimum age of 20 years. A good seed crop is produced at intervals of 2-3 years, although the males flower heavily each year. To best overcome dormancy, stratify under moist conditions for 30 days at 14/30 C (night/day) then for 60 days at 5 C. A forest floor seed bank may retain viable white ash seeds for 3-4 years. Germination can occur on mineral soil, humus, or leaf litter, and seedlings develop best in partial sun. Mature trees may reach 200 years of age.
White ash resprouts from the root crown after logging or fire. Sprouting ability decreases with age.
Associated Forest Cover
19 Gray Birch-Red Maple
21 Eastern White Pine
22 White Pine-Hemlock
23 Eastern Hemlock
24 Hemlock-Yellow Birch
25 Sugar Maple-Beech-Yellow Birch
26 Sugar Maple-Basswood
27 Sugar Maple
28 Black Cherry-Maple
33 Red Spruce-Balsam Fir
39 Black Ash-American Elm-Red Maple
42 Bur Oak
52 White Oak-Black Oak-Northern Red Oak
53 White Oak
55 Northern Red Oak
58 Yellow-Poplar-Eastern Hemlock
59 Yellow-Poplar-White Oak-Northern Red Oak
60 Beech-Sugar Maple
80 Loblolly Pine--Shortleaf Pine
82 Loblolly Pine-Hardwood
91 Swamp Chestnut Oak-Cherrybark Oak
Some of the primary associates of white ash include eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), northern red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Q. alba), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (A. rubrum), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), black cherry (Prunus serotina), American basswood (Tilia americana), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), American elm (Ulmus americana), and yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Understory shrubs and small trees frequently found growing with ash are downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), pawpaw (Asimina triloba), American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), witch-hazel (Hamamelis uirginiana), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya uirginiana), and mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium).
Diseases and Parasites
Air pollution damages white ash. It is rated as sensitive to ozone and is severely injured by stack gases from soft coal consumption and from industrial processes, both of which emit sulfur dioxide.
Two leaf spot fungi, Mycosphaerella effigurata and M. fraxinicola, are common in nurseries and in the forest and cause premature defoliation of white ash. Anthracnose (Gloeosporium aridum) also causes premature defoliation and is most serious following exceptionally wet springs. An ash strain of tobacco ringspot virus causes chlorotic areas on the leaves and has been associated with ash dieback.
A rust (Puccinia peridermiospora) distorts petioles and small twigs. Cankers caused by Nectria galligena may cause branches to break but are rarely found on main stems. Heartwood rots may be caused by Perenniporia fraxinophilus, Phellinus igniarius, Pleurotus ostreatus, Tyromyces spraguei, and Laetiporus sulphureus. These organisms usually enter through wounds or broken branches, mainly on older trees.
Of 26 species of nematodes reported from the roots or root zones of white ash, only one, Meloidogyne ovalis, has been associated with root injury. However, nematodes can be vectors for the ringspot virus (5).
Of the insect pests, the oystershell scale (Lepidosaphes ulmi) is the most serious. Severe infestations cause yellowing of the leaves, and if prolonged, may kill some trees. The cottony maple scale (Pulvinaria innumerabilis) also attacks white ash.
The brownheaded ash sawfly (Tomostethus multicinctus) and the blackheaded ash sawfly (Tethida cordigera) are defoliators that are of concern mainly on ornamental trees. The forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) and the green fruitworm (Lithophane antennata) feed on forest trees and occasionally cause complete defoliation within small geographic areas. The larvae of sphingid moths-Sphinx chersis (the great ash sphinx), S. kalmiae, and Ceratornia undulosa-feed on the leaves of white ash, as does the notched-wing geometer (Ennomos magnaria). The larvae of two leaf roller moths, Sparganothis dilutocostana and S. folgidipenna, also feed on ash.
The ash bark beetle (Leperisinus aculeatus) may cause slight injury when the adults bore into the bark to hibernate. The ash borer (Podosesia syringae) may seriously damage young shade and shelterbelt trees. The ash and privet borer (Tylonotus bimaculatus) attacks and kills branches, especially on older trees. Both the red-headed ash borer (Neoclytus acurninatus) andthe banded ash borer (N. caprea) colonize cut logs and dead or dying trees (1).
White ash seedlings are easily damaged or destroyed by deer and cattle browsing. Rabbits, beaver, and porcupine occasionally use the bark of young trees for food.
Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
eastern white pine stand in Michigan and Early postfire effects of a prescribed
fire in the southern Appalachians of North Carolina provides information on
prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including white ash,
that was not available when this species review was originally written.
Plant Response to Fire
5-year-old saplings the number of white ash stems per acre increased as
Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area 4
Burn Burn No Burn Burn
Moderate Light Control Severe
Saplings 424 215 123 109
Postfire increase +91 +66 +13 +42
Broad-scale Impacts of Fire
weakening the plant and providing entry points. Compared with other
hardwoods, white ash is moderately susceptible to fire-damage-induced
survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex
secondary colonizer; off-site seed carried to site after year 2
More info for the term: succession
White ash is a pioneer species. It is characteristic of early and
intermediate stages of succession. Although mature white ash is
classified as shade intolerant, the seedlings are shade tolerant. A
seedling can survive at less than 3 percent of full sunlight for a few
years. This attribute allows the species to regenerate in gaps .
Sexual: White ash samaras remain viable on the forest floor for 3 to 4
years . The samaras require cold stratification; in the laboratory
stratification at 41 to 14 degrees F (5 to -10 degrees C) for 2 to 3
months resulted in a mean germination of 54 percent. Germination is
epigeal and can occur on mineral soil, humus, or leaf litter, but the
substrate must be moist .
Vegetative: White ash resprouts from the root crown after logging or
fire. Sprouting ability decreases with age .
Silviculture: Young stands (5 to 10 years) respond to the addition of
nitrogen and thinning by increasing the number of stems per acre and
increasing in height growth by 1 to 2 feet (0.3-0.6 m) , whereas
older stands (35 to 85 years) do not exhibit increased growth from
fertilization or release .
White ash responds well to shelterwood cutting. Advanced regeneration
grows best with 60 percent of the overstory removed .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
More info for the terms: chamaephyte, geophyte, phanerophyte
Undisturbed State: Phanerophyte (megophanerophyte)
Undisturbed State: Chamaephyte
Burned or Clipped State: Chamaephyte
Burned or Clipped State: Cryptophyte (geophyte)
Immediate Effect of Fire
Reaction to Competition
Open-grown trees commonly remain single stemmed and fine branched until they are 9 to 12 ni (30 to 40 ft) tall, although old specimens can become as broad crowned as an elm. With even slight crowding, the single-stemmed characteristic can easily be maintained throughout a rotation. Shade-killed branches drop quickly-small ones within a year or two and larger ones within 4 or 5 years (16).
Uninjured terminal buds suppress the growth of all lateral buds on the current year's growth, and they suppress the growth of other laterals to such an extent that each internode has only one pair of branches that persist more than a few years. Even the strongest lateral branches grow only half as fast as the terminal except on old, open-grown trees. Little or no epicormic branching occurs on the boles of released trees. The branches of dominant trees emerge from the bole at about a 35° angle from the vertical, whereas the branches of intermediate trees emerge at about a 55° angle (16).
When young, white ash is a shade-tolerant tree. Seedlings can survive under a canopy with less than 3 percent of full sunlight but grow little under these conditions. Seedlings that receive sufficient sunlight grow rapidly. With increasing age, white ash becomes less tolerant of shade and is classed overall as intolerant. The decrease in shade tolerance with increasing age is reflected in the fact that young white ash is abundant in the understory of northern hardwood stands, but few grow into the overstory unless provided with light from above.
Despite its low shade tolerance, white ash is characteristic of intermediate as well as early stages of natural plant succession. Throughout its range it is a minor but constant component of both the understory and overstory of mature forests on suitable soils. It owes its position in the final overstory to its ability to persist for a few years in moderately dense shade and to respond quickly to openings in the canopy created by death or other causes.
White ash can be maintained more easily in a dense stand than can some of its more shade-intolerant associates, such as northern red oak. In contrast, dominant or codominant white ash responds readily to thinning and within a few years will increase its crown area to take full advantage of any reasonable release (16).
Knowledge of mycorrhizal associations is limited. Gyrodon merulioides has been reported on white ash. Seedlings inoculated with the endomycorrhizal fungi Glomus mosseae and G. fasciculatus grew markedly better than nonmycorrhizal controls (12).
Life History and Behavior
White ash flower buds break dormancy from April to May, with the
vegetative buds breaking immediately after the flowers [27,30]. The
fruit ripens from August to October , and seeds are dispersed from
August to November .
Photoperiodic response appears to vary with geographic location. North Carolina seedlings showed no growth response to a 14.5-hour daylength. In a Massachusetts test, however, northern seedlings ceased height growth and dropped their leaves well before the first frost, while southern seedlings continued height growth until late autumn.
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 2 in (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.
Seed Production and Dissemination
Flowering and Fruiting
Female buds are completely open a few days after they begin to swell. Exposed flowers remain receptive for about I week, but once the stigmas discolor, the period of receptivity is past. Abundant seed crops are borne by about half of the flowering trees.
Good seeds are produced in all parts of the crown. Almost 99 percent of the fruits (samaras) contain one seed, about 1 percent contain two, and a very small percent have twin embryos. Vigorous trees may first flower when only 8 to 10 cm (3 to 4 in) in d.b.h., but white ash is usually 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 in) in d.b.h. before it flowers abundantly.
Growth and Yield
Age D.b.h. Height (yr) (cm) (in) (m) (ft) 20 10 4 12 39 30 18 7 17 56 40 25 10 21 69 50 30 12 23 75 60 36 14 25 82 70 43 17 27 89
Yield tables are not available for white ash in pure stands. However, for plantations in Canada ranging in age from 20 to 38 years, We growth of the dominant and codominant trees averaged 3 to 5 mm. (0.1 to 0.2 in) per year in diameter and 0.2 to 0.8 m (0.7 to 2.6 ft) in height (13). In mixed Appalachian hardwood stands, diameter growth ranged from 3 to 8 mm (0.1 to 0.3 in) per year, depending on site quality and individual tree variation.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
White ash is a polyploid species. Diploids (2n=46) occur throughout the species range but most tetraploids (2n=92) are found south of latitude 35° N and hexaploids (2n=138) are concentrated between latitude 35° and 40° N. Although three ecotypes were previously recognized on the basis of seedling morphology and ploidy level (15), recent work has shown that the variation in several traits is closely related to latitude. This clonal variation and the strong effects of ploidy level on several other traits indicate that ecotypes probably do not exist in white ash (2).
Hybrids White ash and Texas ash (Fraxinus texensis (Gray) Sarg.) intergrade in Texas. The pumpkin ash (Fraxinus profunda (Bush) Bush) behaves in many respects as if it were a true breeding hexaploid derivative of a cross between tetraploid white ash and diploid green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marsh.). However, attempts have failed to artificially cross the two species. It is likely that natural hybridization between white ash and other species is extremely rare (16).
Barcode data: Fraxinus americana
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Fraxinus americana
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 13
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.
White ash is susceptible to a variety of natural and man-made pathogens.
Ash decline (also called ash dieback or ash yellows) has increased over
the last 40 years and is especially prevalent in New York, Pennsylvania,
and Vermont. Mortality rates are as high as 90 percent in some areas of
New York. Nearly all of the ash decline from 1980 to 1986 occurred in
areas with high levels of atmospheric deposition of sulfur (S0x) and
nitrous (NOx) oxides. Although there is no concrete evidence that acid
deposition is the causal agent, it can not be dismissed . Ash
decline probably results from multiple factors--the disease, ash
yellows, caused by a mycoplasmalike organism; canker fungi (Fusicoccum
spp.); viruses; acid deposition; and drought . Maintaining good
tree vigor is the primary control recommendation. Preventative measures
that seem to abate ash decline include : watering, fertilizing,
applying fungicide, covering wounds with a fungicide-augmented dressing,
and avoiding planting white ash in areas of high acid deposition.
White ash has been found to be sensitive to ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide
(SO2), and acid deposition. Chappelka and others  found that total
biomass was reduced 14 percent after exposure to these atmospheric
contaminants. Visible evidence is characterized by initial purple-white
stippling on the adaxial leaf surface which turns into necrotic lesions.
This occurred on 66 percent of the plants.
White ash varies in cold hardiness with the latitude of origin. Trees
grown in the North have a lower lethal temperatures than those from the
South. When revegetating an area, seed and seedlings must be procured
from a source that is climatically and geographically similar [1,13].
Clark and Schroeder  have developed equations to calculate the green
volume, green weight, and dry weight of white ash.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.” These plant materials are readily available from commercial sources.
Ash decline (or “ash dieback” or “ash yellows”) is the most serious problem affecting white ash. The decline is especially prevalent in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont but occurs from the Great Plains to the Atlantic coast at 39–45 N latitude. Mycoplasma-like organisms (MLO, the cause of ash yellows) have been found associated with most of the dying trees.Not all dying trees are infected and ash decline is thought to result from multiple causes – MLO plus various fungi and viruses, as well as atmospheric pollution and drought. Maintenance of good tree vigor is the primary control recommendation.
White ash is sensitive to ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and associated acid deposition, which may cause the appearance of necrotic lesions on the leaves. Most of recent ash decline has occurred in areas with high levels of these gases.
White ash prefers moist, deep soils for best growth but is adaptable to a wide range of soil pH. Full sun is best. Young plants are easily transplanted and established. White ash has been successfully used in the reclamation of strip mines in Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. Seedlings provide a better start than direct seeding, and planting should be in mixtures with other hardwoods. White ash is more ornamental than green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) but is less adaptable, grows at a slower rate, and is more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Bud grafting generally propagates white ash cultivars. The species also can be propagated by conventional methods of grafting and layering; open field and bench grafting of unpotted stock have been successful.
Fire kills the aboveground stem and crown of white ash, but it resprouts from the root crown after fire. White ash is moderately susceptible to decay and insect damage induced through fire damage.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Other uses and values
The juice from the leaves of white ash can be applied topically to
mosquito bites for relief of swelling and itching . White ash has a
specialized use as a prophylactic measure for snake bite. If one
carries the crushed leaves in his/her pockets the odor has been "proved"
offensive to rattlesnakes .
Open-grown white ash is useful as a shade and ornamental tree .
Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
reclamation of surface coal mines, with 45 percent survival after 30
years. White ash should be planted in mixtures with other hardwoods;
interplanting with European alder (Alnus glutimosa) nearly doubled the
height and d.b.h. of white ash on a site in eastern Kentucky. White ash
seedlings are recommended for planting; direct seeding in Ohio produced
poor results. On acid spoils the lower pH limit for white ash is 4.0
White ash provides hiding and thermal cover for a variety of mammals and
birds. The degree to which white ash provides environmental protection
during one or more seasons for wildlife species in several eastern
states has been rated as follows [26,27,28]:
ME PA WV MI KY
White-tailed deer good good good good good
Small mammals good good good good good
Small nongame birds good good good good good
upland game birds good good good good good
Waterfowl good good good good good
ratio, giving it a poor nutritional rating in the winter; however, in
the spring and summer the protein content increases to 7.7 percent,
increasing its rating to fair .
The nutrient values for white ash browse collected on January 16 were as
follows (data presented is in percent composition) .
Protein Fat Fiber Extract Ash Phosphorus Calcium
3.47 0.95 37.56 40.90 2.12 0.07 0.74
poor in the fall and winter to fair in the summer . The samaras are
good forage in the fall .
The relish and the degree of use shown by livestock and wildlife species
for white ash in several eastern states has been rated as follows
ME PA WV MI KY
Cattle fair fair fair fair fair
White-tailed deer fair fair fair fair fair
Small mammals good good good good good
Small nongame birds good good good good good
Upland game birds good good good good good
Waterfowl good good good good good
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
White ash is an important source of browse and cover for livestock and
wildlife. The samaras are good forage for the wood duck, northern
bobwhite, purple finch, pine grosbeak, fox squirrel, and mice, and many
other birds and small mammals . White ash is browsed mostly in the
summer by white-tailed deer and cattle . The bark of young trees is
occasionally used as food by beaver, porcupine, and rabbits .
White ash's ability to readily form trunk cavities if the top is broken
and its large d.b.h. (24 to 48 inches [61-122 cm]) at maturity make it
highly valuable for primary cavity nesters such as red-headed,
red-bellied, and pileated woodpeckers. Once the primary nest excavators
have opened up the bole of the tree, it is excellent habitat for
secondary nesters such as wood ducks, owls, nuthatches, and gray
Wood Products Value
The wood of white ash is economically important due to its strength,
hardness, weight, and shock resistance . It is second only to
hickory (Carya spp.) for use in the production of tool handles. Nearly
all wooden baseball bats are made from white ash . The wood is also
used in furniture, antique vehicle parts, railroad cars and ties, canoe
paddles, snowshoes , boats, doors, and cabinets .
White ash is a good tree for open areas such as parks and campuses; it also is used as a lawn, shade, and street tree, even though its potential large size can make it incongruous with a small area. It is an erect, graceful tree, often with bronze-purple fall foliage. It is easy to transplant and numerous cultivars have been developed, including seedless (male) forms. Other selections are based on yellow to orange and purple fall colors, persistence of leaves in the fall, height, crown shape (broadly to narrowly oval) and density, growth vigor, and cold hardiness. White ash also has been used in re-vegetating disturbed sites.
The wood of white ash is valued for its strength, hardness, heavy weight, and elasticity (shock resistance). Native Americans appreciated its usefulness for tools and implements, and it is used extensively today for tool handles. Its use in wooden baseball bats is famous. The wood is also used in furniture, doors, veneer, antique vehicle parts, railroad cars and ties, canoe paddles, snowshoes, boats, posts, ties, and fuel. White ash is the most valuable timber tree of the various ashes.
White ash was used by Native Americans for a variety of medicinal purposes: a decoction of the leaves as a laxative and general tonic for women after childbirth; the seeds as an aphrodisiac, a diuretic, an appetite stimulant, a styptic, an emetic, and as a cure for fevers; and a bark tea for an itching scalp, lice, snakebite, and other sores. Juice from the leaves has been applied to mosquito bites for relief of swelling and itching.
White-tailed deer and cattle browse white ash and beaver, porcupine, and rabbits may eat the bark of young trees. The seeds are eaten by wood duck, northern bobwhite, turkey, grouse, finches, grosbeaks, cardinals, fox squirrel, mice, and many other birds and small mammals. The tendency of white ash to form trunk cavities makes it valuable for cavity nesters such as redheaded, red-bellied, and pileated woodpeckers. Once primary nest excavators have opened up the bole, it is an excellent habitat for secondary nesters such as wood ducks, owls, nuthatches, and gray squirrels.
Fraxinus americana (white ash or American ash) is a species of Fraxinus native to eastern North America found in mesophytic hardwood forests from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota, south to northern Florida, and southwest to eastern Texas. Isolated populations are also reported from western Texas, Wyoming and Colorado, and the species is reportedly naturalized in Hawaii.
The name White Ash derives from the glaucous undersides of the leaves. It is similar in appearance to the Green Ash, making identification difficult. The lower sides of the leaves of White Ash are lighter in color than their upper sides, and the outer surface of the twigs of White Ash may be flaky or peeling. Green Ash leaves are similar in color on upper and lower sides, and twigs are smoother. Despite some overlap, the two species tend to grow in different locations as well; White Ash is a forest tree that commonly occurs alongside Sugar Maple while Green Ash is a pioneer species that inhabits riparian zones and disturbed areas.
Cultivation and uses
White ash is one of the most used trees for everyday purposes and, to keep up with high demand, is cultivated almost everywhere it can be. The wood is white and quite dense (within 20% of 670 kg/m3), strong, and straight-grained. It is the timber of choice for production of baseball bats and tool handles. The wood is also favorable for furniture and flooring. Woodworkers use the timber mainly for internal uses due to high perishability in contact with ground soil. It is also used to make lobster traps. Recently, it has also become a popular choice for solidbody electric guitar wood as well. It makes a very servicable longbow if properly worked. The wood was used in ceiling fan blades from the 1970s through the mid-1980s, though cane was sometimes simulated with plastic then. It is no longer used for ceiling fan blades in most countries.
White Ash is not seen in cultivation as often as Green Ash due to its preference for undisturbed forest sites away from urban pollution and soil compaction, but sometimes has been planted for its consistently reliably autumn colors, which typically are bright orange and red hues as opposed to other species of ash that produce a uniform yellow color.
Other names occasionally used for the species include Biltmore ash, Biltmore white ash and cane ash.
Emerald ash borer
The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis or Agrilus marcopoli and EAB) is a green beetle native to Asia.
In North America the borer is an invasive species, highly destructive to ash trees in its introduced range. The damage of this insect rivals that of Chestnut blight and Dutch Elm Disease. To put its damage in perspective, the number of chestnuts killed by the Chestnut blight was around 3.5 billion chestnut trees while there are 3.5 billion ash trees in Ohio alone. Dutch Elm Disease killed only 200 million elm trees while EAB threatens 7.5 billion ash trees in the United States. The insect threatens the entire North American Fraxinus genus, while past invasive tree pests have only threatened a single species within a genus. Since its accidental introduction into the United States and Canada in the 1990s, and its subsequent detection in 2002, it has spread to eleven states and adjacent parts of Canada. It has killed at least 50 million ash trees so far and threatens to kill most of the ash trees throughout North America. The green ash and the black ash trees are preferred. White ash is also killed rapidly, but usually only after green and black ash trees are eliminated. Blue ash displays some resistance to the emerald ash borer by forming callous tissue around EAB galleries; however, they are usually killed. White ash has been less affected by emerald ash borer due to its small population (unlike its cousin, F. americana is not commonly seen in cultivation) compared to Green ash, which was planted in huge numbers as an ornamental.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fraxinus americana.|
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Fraxinus americana
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Fraxinus americana
- Biota of North America Program, map, Fraxinus americana
- Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont: Fraxinus americana
- New Brunswick tree and shrub: Fraxinus americana
- White Ash, Niche Timbers. Retrieved on 2009-07-24.
- Bruce Schlink (2012). Americans Held Hostage by the Environmentalist Movement. Dorrance Publishing. p. 494. ISBN 9781434975362.
Sources (some not Wikified)
Names and Taxonomy
Biltmore white ash
small-seed white ash
americana L. . White ash is in the Oleaceae (olive) family .
Currently recognized varieties of white ash are :
F. americana var. americana
F. americana var. biltmoreana (Beadle) J. Wright
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