Ash, Texas White
OTHER COMMON NAMES: TEXAS WHITE ASH
BOTANICAL NAME: Fraxinus texensis
PRONUNCIATION: (FRAK-suh-nus tex-EN-sis)
FAMILY: Oleaceae (Olive Family)
TYPE: Deciduous shade tree
HEIGHT: 30 to 50 feet
SPREAD: 30 to 40 feet
FINAL SPACING: 20 to 40 feet
NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE: Texas ash grows natively in limestone soils of north Texas west to Palo Pinto County and down to the Balcones Escarpment of the Edward’s Plateau. It is also native in Val Verde County to the far west of its range. It grows in very low rainfall areas and can handle steeply sloped and very thin soils but will adapt to normal landscape conditions throughout Texas.
IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: Texas Ash is a beautiful shade tree that is graceful in the summer but has rich fall color that ranges from pastel hues of yellow, orange, red, gold and purple that completely often turn a brilliant scarlet red. The tree generally has an overall rounded or oval and very neat form. Although spreading with age.
FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Small greenish yellow flowers in the spring in clusters of winged samara that ripen in the fall.
BARK: Bark is very light and smooth in color – light gray to almost white in some cases when young. It gets darker and gets mildly fissured with age.
FOLIAGE: Foliage is compound 8 to 13 inches long. Usually 3 to 5 leaflets with 7 being the most common. The leaflets are rounded when young but become more pointed with age. The very closely kin white ash has dark lustrous color on the top of the leaves with a paler whitish color beneath.
CULTURE: Texas ash is very easy to grow in most soils unless over watered. It has very low water and fertilizer requirements but does need excellent drainage and it is also very easy to transplant from the wild.
PROBLEMS: Poor drainage is the biggest problem, which will lead to borers, root diseases and other environmentally related pests.
PROPAGATION: Texas ash can be grown very easily from seed, cuttings or transplants. The seed should be sown outdoors in the fall in beds or pots. ¼ to ½ inch deep in well-drained soil. The planting area for best results should be given light to medium shade in the afternoon for the first season. Cuttings will do best when taken very late in the winter as buds are swelling just before flowering. Texas ash can be transplanted successfully up to 6 inches in caliper if handled properly. Books that recommend trees to be pruned back at transplanting time should be ignored. Not a twig should be cut away at transplanting.
INSIGHT: Most plentiful ash in Texas. Shinner’s and Maher’s Flora of North Central Texas by Diggs, Lipscomb and O’Kennon agree that the Texas ash may be the subspecies of White Ash, Faxinus americana. I don’t care – they both do very well here. Texas ash is very closely kin to the white ash and according to the late Benny Simpson the only difference between the white ash and Texas ash is the length of the seed of the white ash is slightly longer. I have recommended white ash cultivars in the past but it is best in all cases to try to stick with native plants whenever possible.