One of the popular ornamental trees with a spectacular yellow-red autumn foliage, the white ash tree is highly valued for its tough wood. The name of this tree is derived from its leaves, that have a dusty underside, which is lighter in color. Native to North America, these long-lived trees are commonly found in the middle and eastern United States. It is also found in certain parts of Canada and neighboring regions.
- As mentioned above, the tree has leaves with a dusty and lighter underside, and this is one of its distinguishing factors. In fact, the name 'white ash' is derived from the leaves of this tree.
- Another feature that helps in identifying a white ash tree is its flaky bark, which is grayish-brown in color. The ridges on the bark form a diamond-shaped pattern.
- It may be difficult to distinguish a white ash tree from a green ash tree. In green ash trees, both sides of the leaves are almost similar in color, and the bark is more smooth.
- White ash tree (Fraxinus americana) is also known by many other names, like American ash, Biltmore ash, Biltmore white ash, cane ash, etc.
- White ash trees can grow big, and reach a height of around 60 to 100 feet. Mature trees have a round crown, and are said to be the largest of ash trees in North America.
- Even the trunks of old white ash trees have a diameter of around six feet.
- The leaves are pinnately compound with 5 to 9 leaflets. Some leaves may also have 7 to 12 leaflets with an oval shape.
- One of the distinguishing features that helps in white ash tree identification is the presence of opposite branches.
- The autumn foliage of this tree is yellowish-red in color. As the leaves fall in autumn, the twigs develop a semicircular scar on them.
- Clusters of small white flowers develop on the twigs during the spring, along with the new leaves, or before the emergence of leaves. The fruits are light green in color, but changes to brownish samaras (winged fruits).
Uses of White Ash Tree
Apart from its ornamental uses, the white ash tree is highly valued for its wood, that is tough and strong. It is said that, it requires a very high pressure to break this wood, which is dense with straight grains. Another advantage of this wood is that, it can be bend easily without breaking, and is light too. This tree has white wood that is used for making furniture as well as flooring. White ash tree wood is highly in demand for making sports equipment, like baseball bats, tennis racquets, hockey sticks, etc. Even tool handles are made out of this wood. Earlier, this wood was very popular for making ceiling fan blades, but nowadays, you may not find such fans. The wood is also used for making lobster traps and longbows. It is also getting increasingly popular as solid body electric guitar wood. White ash trees are also valued as a homeopathic remedy for enlarged uterus, hot flashes, and foot cramps.
In short, white ash trees are hardy, and are found to be somewhat free of diseases. They need moist, but well drained and fertile soil and full sun for a healthy growth. They grow at a fast rate, and if grown for harvesting, it can be done by 11 years.