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White Ash, A Common Tree in North America

Fraxinus americana, A Top 100 Common Tree in North America

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White ash is the largest of the ashes native to North America. Its growth is very responsive when growing in rich soils but is never a dominant forest species. Ash has been a part of American sports since the 1890s when Louisville Slugger started manufacturing a baseball bat with ash. White and red ash is still considered the best baseball bat material to use.

Unfortunately, both white and green ash populations are being decimated by the emerald ash borer (EAB). Discovered in 2002 near Detroit, MI, the beetle has spread through much of the northern ash range and threatens billions of trees.

Do you have a white ash or green ash? Find out here.

1. The Silviculture of White Ash

Steve Nix
One of the earliest reported uses of white ash was as a snake bite preventive. Ash leaves in a hunter's pocket or boots were "proved" to be offensive to rattlesnakes and thereby provided protection from them. Seeds of white ash are eaten by the wood duck, bob white, purple finch, pine grosbeak, and fox squirrel. White ash is used in yard, street, and roadside plantings and also has been planted on strip mines with some success.

2. The Images of White Ash

IMG_0759_ash.jpg
Steve Nix
Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of white ash. The tree is a hardwood and the lineal taxonomy is Magnoliopsida > Scrophulariales > Oleaceae > Fraxinus americana. White ash is also commonly called Biltmore ash or Biltmore white ash.

3. The Range of White Ash

Range of White Ash
USFS
White ash grows naturally from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, to northern Florida in the east, and to eastern Minnesota south to eastern Texas at the western edge of its range.

4. White Ash at Virginia Tech

IMG_0757_ash.jpg
Steve Nix
Leaf: Opposite, pinnately compound with 7 serrate to entire leaflets that are ovate to somewhat lanceolate, 8 to 12 inches long, essentially hairless, green above and slightly paler below.

Twig: Stout, gray-olive-green, hairless, leaf scars round at the bottom, notched at the top, with lateral buds in the notch; terminal bud is large, brown, with leathery scales and flanked by two lateral buds.

5. Fire Effects on White Ash

IMG_0758.JPG
Steve Nix
Fire kills the above-ground stem and crown of white ash. Fire wounds can increase a tree's susceptibility to insects and decay by weakening the plant and providing entry points. Compared with other hardwoods, white ash is moderately susceptible to fire-damage-induced decay.

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