The white ash (Fraxinus Americana) is a native tree growing 50-80 feet tall. It is a popular street tree in the urban landscape. The trunk is long, straight and free of branches for most of its height. Young bark on trunks are smooth and grayish. The bark of mature ashes is ash-gray and furrowed into a braided or diamond-shaped pattern. The compound leaves typically have seven ovate leaflets, six opposite each other with one at the end on short-stemmed stalks. The leaves are dark green and smooth above, whitish below. The wood is white, hard, strong and elastic. It is used for flooring, furniture, and most famously, baseball bats. The wood is also used for making tool handles, mallets, hockey sticks, and rowing oars. Currently, the emerald ash borer, a green beetle native to Asia and accidentally imported into the United States, threatens to kill the entire North American ash genus. The ash trees in Marquand Park have been injected with an insecticide to protect the trees from the Emerald Ash borer (EAB). The tree was introduced to Europe in 1724. The white coloring of the under (abaxial) leaf blade distinguishes F. america (white abaxial) from F. pennsylvania (green abaxial); moreover F. america have U-shaped leaf scars left from the previous year’s leaves. The genus name Fraxinus comes from the Latin name for ash trees. The specific epithet refers to North or South America
Common name: White Ash, American Ash.
Scientific Name (family and order): Fraxinus americana L. (Oleaceae, Lamiales)
Species Origin: Eastern North America
New Jersey Status: USDA Native
Habit: 70 – 100’ tall x 50’ wide; bole 2-3’. Broadly columnar in shape. Rich woods
Trunk/Stem: Bark gray-brown with narrow interlacing ridges. Older trees have buttressed tree base and massive branches.
Leaves: Deciduous, Pinnately Compound, Opposite. Pinnate 14” long with five to nine ovate to lanceolate, taper-pointed, sparsely-toothed leaflet. Each leaflet 4 ¼” long and 3” across. Blades dark green and smooth above and light blue-green to almost white, smooth or slightly hairy below. The rachis (the central compound leaf petiole extension) is pale yellow. Leaves turn yellow or purple in autumn. Winter leaf bud dark brown to nearly black. Autumn colors purple, bronze, gold, yellow
Flowers: Dioecious. Very small without petals. Male and female flowers both very small, green or purple without petals borne in clusters on separate plants. Blooms in spring before the leaves emerge.
Fruits and seeds: The fruit is a 2” long, winged samara (they look like one-sided “keys”) with seed ripening from green to brown. The fruits are carried in a dense pendulous cluster throughout fall and winter.