Fraxinus americana, commonly called white ash, is native to eastern North America. This is the largest of the native ashes, typically growing 60-80’ tall. Young trees are pyramidal in shape, gradually maturing to a more rounded crown. White ash is primarily dioecious (separate male and female trees). Clusters of apetalous purplish male and female flowers appear on separate trees in April-May before the late-to-emerge foliage. Fertilized female flowers give way to drooping clusters of winged samaras (to 2” long) that ripen in fall and may persist on the tree throughout winter. Features odd-pinnate compound leaves with 7 leaflets (less frequently 5 or 9). Oval to oblong-lanceolate leaflets (3-5” long) are dark green above and whitish green below. Foliage turns yellow with purple shading in fall. Gray bark develops distinctive diamond-shaped ridging on mature trees. White ash is a valuable timber tree. Its wood is commercially used for a variety of products including tool handles, oars, garden furniture and sports equipment. White ash is the wood used for Louisville Slugger baseball bats.
It has a fast growth rate. Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun. Moderate drought tolerance. Best sited in locations protected from strong winds. Generally tolerant of urban conditions, particularly if well-sited in the landscape. Tolerant of neutral to slightly alkaline soil conditions. Zones 3-9.
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year.
- Soak the seed in water for 12 hours.
- Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for two months.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the container and leave it to drain.
- Put the pot in a warm, sunny area.
- Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet.
- The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.