Ash Tree: Types, Bark and Leaves – Identification Guide (Pictures)

Ash trees are medium to big deciduous trees with a rounded crown of dark green leaves. Ash tree pinnate leaves have five, seven, or nine leaflets that form clusters. The majority of mature ash trees have gray bark with diamond-shaped ridges. Common ash trees can be found in parks, deciduous woods, woodlands, and residential neighborhoods. This article is a guide to identifying them.

Ash Tree Facts

The tree genus Fraxinus and the family Oleaceae include ash trees, which are huge canopy trees. Ash trees are found in North America and have 65 species, 18 of which are native. The majority of ash trees reach a height of 50 to 80 feet (15 to 24 meters). A spreading circular canopy up to 50 feet (15 meters) broad distinguishes the medium-sized trees.

USDA zones 3 to 9 in full sun are ideal for most varieties of ash trees. Ash trees thrive in rich, well-drained soil beside streams or wetlands across North America. While some species of ash trees are drought-tolerant, they can thrive in damp soil.

The density of hardwood in ash trees is well-known. For furniture or indoor wooden flooring, ash wood is a great option. Baseball bats, tool handles, and musical instruments such as electric guitars are all made of ash wood due to its strength. In the spring, when the leaves have gone, ash trees produce little white or purple flowers. Ash trees produce oar-shaped seeds after blooming. In late fall or early winter, the trees drop these ash seeds.

In the spring and summer, ash tree leaves are dark green. Ash tree foliage goes from a brilliant yellow to a purple-red in the fall when the weather gets colder. Ash trees are highly ornamental trees because of their many appealing characteristics: leaves, bark, branches, and foliage.

Ash Tree Varieties

North America, Europe, and Asia are all covered in ash trees (Fraxinus). The olive tree family, Oleaceae, contains all of the ash tree types and is likewise a woody plant. The most popular types of ash trees are as follows:

  • White ash tree (Fraxinus americana). Green leaves with blue-green underworlids characterize the American ash tree or white ash. The pyramidal shape of white ash trees is due to their growth habits.
  • Black ash tree (Fraxinus nigra). Slow-growing black ash has scaly gray bark and long leaves. It is a medium-sized tree.
  • Green ash tree (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). Green ash trees, sometimes known as red ash, are common across North America. The green leaves of the deciduous tree turn golden yellow in the fall, measuring up to 80 feet (24 meters).
  • Arizona ash tree (Fraxinus velutina). A small deciduous tree, the Arizona ash or velvet ash tree is short. The pinnate leaves of Arizona ash trees feature seven leaflets and are rough gray in color.
  • Texas ash tree (Fraxinus albicans). Texas ash trees, which may grow up to 32 feet (10 meters) tall, are little trees. Texas ash trees have smaller leaves than white ash trees.

Ash Tree Bark

The patterns on ash tree bark are diamond-shaped, and it is light gray. The bark of young ash trees is smooth. The bark gets tougher and develops shallow fissures as ash tree species reach maturity. A mature ash bark looks like a mature oak tree, and it’s dark gray.

Ash Tree Leaves

Pinnate compound leaves with five to nine (sometimes eleven or thirteen) oblong-lanceolate leaflets, young ash tree leaves are on the left, and adult ash tree leaves are on the right. On the leaf stalk, the leaflets grow in the opposite direction. The length of an ash tree’s leaves may range from 8″ to 12″ (20 – 30 cm).

The 3” to 5” (7.5–12 cm) long individual leaflets are found. On the top side, ash leaves are usually dark green, but on the bottom side they are lighter. Tooth-edged leaflets on certain tree species, as well as smooth edges on other ash tree leaves,

Ash Tree Seeds

Ash tree seeds, sometimes known as samaras, are a group of winged seeds that grow in clusters on the stem. Paddle-shaped seeds may seem to be clusters of tiny leaves when they hang down from branches. Light green or brown ash tree seed clusters may occur. Ash tree seeds are comparable to maple seeds in appearance.

Ash Tree Identification

The huge, pinnately complex leaves with five or seven leaflets that identify ash trees are the easiest way to recognize them. With its ridges growing in a crisscross pattern that forms diamond shapes, ash tree bark is easy to identify. Ash tree branches don’t grow in alternating pairs, but rather in pairs that are diametrically opposed to each others.

Types of Ash Trees (With Pictures)

Let’s look in more detail at the various features of common ash trees. Along with descriptions of the bark and leaves, pictures of ash trees will help identify varieties of trees in the Fraxinus genus.

Arizona Ash Tree or Velvet Ash (Fraxinus velutina)

Arizona ash trees, which are a medium-sized shade tree, grow up to 50 feet (15 meters) tall and are known as velutina ash trees. This quick-growing ash tree has serrated bark, serrated leaf margins, and tiny clusters of spring blooms that distinguish it. Arizona ash trees have 1-inch (3-centimeter) long seeds. Fraxinus velutina is known by a variety of names, including velvet ash, leatherleaf ash, and Modesto ash.

  • Native area: South-western United States
  • USDA growing zones: 7 to 11
  • Height: 30 to 50 ft. (9 to 15 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun

Ash tree leaves: The leaves of Arizona ash trees are 10 – 25 cm long. Five or seven leaflets with small serrated edges make up each leaf.

Arizona ash tree leaves and seeds

Ash tree bark: Arizona ash tree bark has diamond-shaped fissures and a rough feel. It is gray-brown in color.

The bark of mature and juvenile Arizona ash trees

White Ash Tree (Fraxinus americana)

White ash trees have an lovely oval growth style and are gorgeous deciduous trees. This ash tree has year-long appeal because of its dark green leaves, silvery bark, and purple spring blooms. In the autumn, white ash trees produce clusters of 2.5″ (5 cm) winged seeds. American ash trees are another name for white ash trees. Baseball bats, hockey sticks, oars, and toys are all made of ash hardwood.

  • Native area: Eastern North America
  • USDA growing zones: 3 to 9
  • Height: 60 to 80 ft. (18 – 24 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun

Ash tree leaves: Pinnate compound leaves with five to nine leaflets make up the white ash tree leaves. The top sides of the oblong leaves are dark green, while the bottom sides are light blue. In the autumn, white ash leaves turn yellow or crimson.

White ash autumn leaves

Ash tree bark: White ash tree bark has characteristic diamond-shaped furrows and a rough feel, and it is appealing silvery-brown.

White ash bark

Green Ash Tree (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

Green ash trees have a straight trunk and are medium-sized. The leafy, medium-green foliage of this native ash tree forms a dense rounded crown. Being a shade tree, the ash tree has a tremendous spread of branches. Purple blooms on green ash trees emerge in huge clusters. Swamp ash, red ash, downy ash, and water ash are all common names for green ash trees.

  • Native area: Eastern and central North America
  • USDA growing zones: 3 to 9
  • Height: 50 to 70 ft. (15 – 21 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun

Ash tree leaves: Oak leaves are made up of five to nine leaflets, and they are compound pinnate. In the autumn, the medium-green leaves range in color from yellow to gold.

Green ash leaves

Ash tree bark: The gray-brown bark of green ash trees contains prominent diamond patterns.

Green ash bark

Black Ash Tree (Fraxinus nigra)

Black ash trees have a straight stem that is 24″ (60 cm) in diameter and grow up to 65 feet (20 meters). In deciduous woods, black ash thrives in marshy regions or near water.

  • Native area: Eastern and northern North America
  • USDA growing zones: 3 – 7
  • Height: 50 to 65 ft. (15 – 20 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Ash tree leaves: Each large leaf of black ash has seven to thirteen leaflets. The edges of black ash leaves are finely serrated, growing to 18 inches (45 cm) long.

Black ash leaves

Ash tree bark: Corky and spongy in gray, black ash tree bark is corky and spongy. The fissuring becomes deeper and scaly as the black ash trees mature.

Black ash bark

Blue Ash Tree (Fraxinus quadrangulata)

The blue ash tree (Fraxinus quadrangulata) belongs to the Fraxinus genus of trees. The ash trees have a rounded crown that grows to 82 feet (25 meters) in height. The dark blue or black dye extracted from the tree’s inner bark gave the red ash trees their name. The tree’s four-sided twigs gave it the botanical name quadrangulata.

  • Native area: Midwestern United States
  • USDA growing zones: 4 to 7
  • Height: 50 to 75 ft. (15 – 22 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun

Ash tree leaves: The 8″ to 15″ (20 cm) long leaves of the red ash tree are large. Each pinnate leaf has a median of seven leaflets, however they may range from five to eleven. Blue ash leaves are easily identified by their coarsely serrated margins.

Blue ash leaves

Ash tree bark: In young trees, the bark of the blue ash tree is smooth, but as it ages, it becomes rough and fissured.

Blue ash bark

California Ash Tree (Fraxinus dipetala)

California ash trees, which range in size from shrubs to trees, thrive in the California environment. In the spring, inconspicuous clusters of white blooms emerge. This ash species is known as the two-petal ash since it only has two petals.

  • Native area: Southwestern North America
  • USDA growing zones: 7 to 10
  • Height: 7 – 25 ft. (2 – 7.5 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun

Ash tree leaves: The rounded tips of California ash tree leaves make them stand out. Three to nine leaflets with serrated margins adorn the elongated oblong leaves. The leaves of California ash are 2 to 7 inches (5 to 19 cm) long.

Ash tree bark: As the tree grows, California ash tree bark becomes fissured.

Carolina Ash Tree (Fraxinus caroliniana)

The leaves of the Carolina ash (Fraxinus caroliniana) are small. The Carolina ash is the smallest of the Fraxinus species and grows in swamps and marshy ground. Depending on the climate, the subtropical ash tree might be semi-evergreen or evergreen. Florida ash, pop ash, water ash, and swamp ash are some of the other names for Carolina ash trees.

  • Native area: South and the southeastern United States
  • USDA growing zones: 7 to 9
  • Height: 40 ft. (12 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun

Ash tree leaves: Pinnate compound leaves with seven glossy green leaflets per leaf make up the pinnate leaves of the Carolina ash tree. Serrated margins adorn the lanceolate leaves.

Ash tree bark: When the tree is young, the bark of the Carolina ash is smooth, but as it gets older, shallow fissures form in square-shaped plates.

Texas Ash Tree (Fraxinus albicans)

Texas ash (Fraxinus albicans) trees are small trees that thrive on dry, rocky soil. Little clusters of spring blooms adorn the deciduous sun-loving ash tree. On the tree in the autumn, samaras clusters emerge. Drought-tolerant trees may be found in Texas.

  • Native area: Southern United States
  • USDA growing zones: 5 to 9
  • Height: 32 ft. (10 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun

Ash tree leaves: The leaves of the Texas ash tree are rounded and have five leaflets. Between 1 and 3 inches (3 to 7 cm) long, the ash tree leaves.

Ash tree bark: When the tree is young, Texas ash bark is smooth and gray, but as it ages, it becomes furrowed.

European Ash Tree (Fraxinus excelsior)

European ash trees are deciduous trees with a large, rounded crown that grow tall and flourish in the area. Because of its wide spread and height, this species of ash tree makes an excellent shade tree. In reality, the tree might be taller than it appears.

The black buds of the European ash tree stand out against the brown buds of most ash trees. However, compared to other ash species, European ash trees aren’t particularly appealing. In large open landscapes, however, the towering ash tree is spectacular..

European ash bud

  • Native area: Europe and southwestern Asia
  • USDA growing zones: 5 to 7
  • Height: 70 to 80 ft. (21 – 24 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun

Ash tree leaves: Large dark green leaves with seven to eleven leaflets per leaf, European ash tree leaves are a sight to behold. The serrated margins of the ash leaves in Europe are 8 to 14 inches (20 to 35 cm) long and have an elliptic shape.

European ash leaves

Ash tree bark: When young, the bark of the European ash tree is smooth. The ash tree’s bark thickens with vertical fissures as it matures.

European ash bark

Pumpkin Ash Tree (Fraxinus profunda)

Pumpkin ash trees, which are native to the eastern United States, are tall deciduous trees. These massive ash trees may reach heights of up to 80 feet (24 meters). The big leaves of pumpkins ash trees may stretch up to 18 inches (45 cm). Seven or nine lanceolate leaves make up eachleaflet. Gray, thick, and fissured pumpkin ash bark

The pumpkin ash tree’s bulging trunk, which resembles a pumpkin, earned the name pumpkinsash.

Pumpkin ash bark

Manchurian Ash Tree (Fraxinus mandshurica)

Manchurian ash trees, which grow between 40 and 50 feet (12 and 15 meters) tall in northern Asia, are native to Manchuria. These ash trees have pinnate compound leaves with seven to thirteen leaflets that are 2″ to 8″ (5 – 20 cm) long. As the Asian ash trees grow, their bark becomes smooth and fissured, with a gray color.

Manchurian ash trees grow best in zones 3 to 6 and are happiest in full sun. Manchurian ash trees and black ash trees have a lot in common.

Ash bark from Manchuria

Manna Ash Tree (Fraxinus ornus)

The manna ash is a medium-sized ash tree that is also known as the South European flowering ash tree. The height of this ash variety ranges from 50 to 82 feet (15 to 25 meters). Five to nine broad, ovoid leaflets with somewhat serrated borders make up the large matte green pinnate leaves. As the tree grows, manna ash bark retains its smoothness, unlike other types of ash trees.

In zones 6 through 9, manna ash trees or flowering ash trees thrive.

Manna ash bark

Narrow Leaf Ash Tree (Fraxinus angustifolia)

Narrow-leafed ash trees are native to Europe, North Africa, and southern Asia and are medium-sized deciduous trees. The bark is cracked gray, and the leaves are three to thirteen slender long leaflets that grow to between 65 and 98 feet (20 and 30 meters) tall.

In zones 5 to 9, narrow-leafed ash trees flourish.

Narrow leaf ash tree bark

Gregg’s Ash Tree (Fraxinus greggii)

Gregg’s ash tree is a deciduous tree native to southern North America that is also known as the little leaf ash tree. With smooth gray bark, this multi-stemmed ash tree is a tiny tree. Gregg’s ash trees feature serrated edges on their lance-shaped leaves and are a semi-evergreen species. Gregg’s ash trees may reach a height of 20 feet (6 meters) and a width of 15 feet (4.5 meters). USDA zones 7 to 10 are home to these ash trees.

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