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Fragrant Ash


BOTANICAL NAME:  Fraxinus cuspidata

PRONUNCIATION:  FRAK-suh-nus cus-pi-DA-tah

FAMILY:  Oleaceae (Olive Family)

TYPE:  Deciduous ornamental tree

HEIGHT:  10 to 20 feet

SPREAD:  8 to 12 feet

FINAL SPACING:  8 to 15 feet

NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE:  It grows naturally in the canyons of the Devils and Pecos Rivers along the Rio Grande in Val Verde County and on the western Edward’s Plateau. It primarily grows in the Trans-Pecos and far west Texas on mountain slopes and in canyons, primarily rocky soil conditions.

IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION:  Fragrant ash has white flowers that are very fragrant - the only ash with this kind of flowers. It is more shrubby than tree like and has long thin leaflets on compound leaves.

FLOWERS AND FRUIT:  Flowers have four white petals that appear as the leaves first emerge in the spring and are born on clusters 3 or 4 inches long. In the spring fragrant ash seem to be completely covered with a white blanket of flowers. Bloom period is generally in the spring from April to May. The fruit is drooping panicles of long samaras on slender stems. The foliage is compound leaves 3 to 6 inches long made up of 5 to 7 leaflets which are delicate and narrow.

BARK:  The bark is smooth and white to medium gray. On old trunks the bark starts breaking into short scales and irregular fissures.

CULTURE:  Fragrant ash will grow equally well in slightly alkaline limestone soils or slightly acidic igneous soils. It even does well in the heavy black clay soils.

PROBLEMS:  Availability in the nursery trade is the biggest problem.

PROPAGATION:  Best grown from seed. The seed may be planted in the fall immediately after harvest or in the spring after storing at 41 degrees.

INSIGHT:  This gorgeous tree is at least as showy as flowering dogwood and should be planted much more in Texas.


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