Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Fraxinus americana L.
- Family: Ash (Oleaceae)
- Flowering: March-April
- Field Marks: The leaf scars on the twigs of this species are more or less concave along the
top, rather than straight across as they are in the similar green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica).
- Habitat: Bottomlands, wooded slopes.
- Habit: Large tree up to 100 feet tall; trunk diameter up to 4 feet; crown pyramidal or ovoid.
- Bark: Light or dark gray, with diamond-shaped furrows between flat-topped, sometimes scaly, ridges.
- Twigs: Slender, gray or brown, sometimes hairy but usually smooth; leaf scars opposite; bundle traces forming a half-moon; buds rounded, dark brown, finely hairy.
- Leaves: Opposite, pinnately compound, with 5-9 leaflets; leaflets lance-shaped to lance-ovate, often curved, pointed at the tip, rounded or tapering to the base, up to 5 inches long, about half as broad, shallowly toothed, pale and smooth or hairy on the lower surface, stalk of leaflets short.
- Flowers: Male and female borne on separate trees before the leaves begin to expand, minute, purplish, in crowded clusters.
- Sepals: Small, 4-parted.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 2.
- Pistils: Ovary superior, smooth.
- Fruits: Paddle-shaped, winged, up to 2 1/2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide, several in a cluster, 1-seeded at the base.
- Notes: The leaves often turn yellowish or a shade of maroon in the autumn. The hard wood is used in making furniture, baseball bats, snowshoes, and for interior finishing. The seeds are an important source of food for squirrels, rodents, and many kinds of birds.
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