Print This Page

Swamp Ash



BOTANICAL NAME: Fraxinus pennsylvanica

PRONUNCIATION: FRAK-suh-nus pen-cil-VAN-ik-ca

FAMILY: Oleaceae (Olive Family)

TYPE: Deciduous shade tree

HEIGHT: From 50 to 70 feet

SPREAD: 40 to 50 feet

FINAL SPACING: Twenty to fifty feet if planted at all.

NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE: Wide ranging tree in Texas. Grows wild in the piney woods, gulf prairies and marshes, post oak savannah, black land prairies, cross timbers, and Rio Grand Plains – basically the eastern half of the state. It also grows along the banks of the Canadian River in the Panhandle in Hemphill and Rodgers Counties. It can grow in a wide range of moist soils including limestone, clays, and sandy loams. It needs plenty of moisture. It grows along rivers and streams and even in swamps, flood plains, swales and depressions.

IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: It is an upright growing, spreading, round-topped shade tree that has been reported to grow as tall as 80 feet. It has the typical compound leaves of the ash trees, but the leaflets are wider than Arizona ash and generally not as wide as Texas ash. The fall color is yellow as opposed to multi colors seen in the Texas ash.

FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Male flowers on one plant and female flowers on the other (dioecious) and they are nothing to get excited about. The fruit are samaras (winged fruit) in panicles or clusters. The typical winged seed of ash trees.

BARK: The bark is brown to dark gray, and fairly tight. The ridges or fissures are rather shallow and the leaves are large and compound, 8 to 12 inches long usually 5 to 9 leaflets – 7 is the most common number and the leaflets are very pointed.

CULTURE: Green ash grows in moist soil in nature and on a lot of residential properties although I do not recommend it very highly. It is not a long-lived tree and is subject to several challenges.

PROBLEMS: Aphids in the early summer, borers and damage from drought. Can experience fairly serious die back during summer droughts.

PROPAGATION: Don’t - unless you are interested in growing a problematic, short-lived tree.

INSIGHT: The green ash hybrids that are on the market are even less adapted in Texas than the parent plant. I’ve learned that the hard way on landscape projects.

River Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) Fast growing deciduous tree with large compound leaves, dark green foliage, yellow fall color. Smooth, mottled bark when young that gets rougher with age. Easy to grow to 40’ in any soil medium water, light fertilization. Shade tree, fall color, background tree, mass tree planting. Not extremely high quality

  Search Library Topics      Search Newspaper Columns