Ash Tree Guide: All 12 Species, Colors, Types, Identification (& Disease)

Image of a massive Ash tree with a large trunk and wide crown in an oval frame on green background.

Facing extinction from ash tree disease and emerald ash borer beetle,1 Fraxinus, commonly called ash tree, is a genus of flowering plants of the lilac and olive family Oleaceae. It contains roughly 44 to 66 species of large to medium trees that shed leaves, though some subtropical species are evergreen. The genus is spread across North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Location of Ash Tree on the IUCN Red List—Conservation Status. Is the Ash Tree Endangered?

Once abundant, the ash tree genus faces extinction.2 According to the latest update by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, North America’s most valuable and widespread tree is getting decimated by an invasive beetle.2

Three of the most affected ash tree species, Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra), and White Ash (Fraxinus americana), are the most dominant, making up for 9 billion trees in the United States.2

Ash Tree


Image of a green Ash tree in a green oval frame.
  • Family: Oleaceae
  • Genus: Fraxinus
  • Leaf: Leaves are compound and composed of 5-11 leaflets. Leaflet margins may be smooth or toothed.
  • Bark: On mature trees (left), the bark is tight with a distinct pattern of diamond-shaped ridges. On young trees (right), bark is relatively smooth.
  • Height: 18–34 metres (60–120 feet)
  • Canopy: Oval to rounded silhouette and dense
  • Type: Deciduous
  • Native Habitat: Primarily in cold temperate region
  • Seed: When present on trees, seeds are dry, oar-shaped samaras. They usually occur in clusters and typically hang on the tree until late fall, early winter.
  • Blossoms: Tiny, dark purple and appear – largely unnoticed
  • Fruit: The fruits on ash trees are samaras, similar to the winged seeds of maples, and they are usually grouped in clusters on the stem

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Critically Endangered


Image Credit: Ramon Perucho (rperucho)21

These trees are an essential part of North American forests. They provide food and habitat for birds, insects, and squirrels and support vital pollinator species like moths and butterflies. The decline of these species will gravely affect 80% of the trees and change the composition of urban and wild forests.

The fast-moving and destructive Emerald Ash Borer beetle is destroying tens of millions of ash trees left behind by the ash tree disease, worsening an already grave predicament. Due to global warming, very cold areas for the beetle are currently suitable for it, making it hard to know the extent of its infestation in the future.2

How To Identify Ash Trees: What Should You Look At?

The tree is easy to identify since, when mature, they reach a height of 30 meters. Graceful and tall, they usually grow together, forming a domed canopy. The tree is identifiable in winter by its distinctive smooth twigs that look black.

Ash Tree Leaves

The leaves are pinnately compound, comprising roughly 3 to 6 opposite pairs of oval and light green leaflets with tips measuring 40cm with an extra single terminal leaflet at the end. Its leaves can follow the direction of the sunlight, and in some cases, the whole tree crown may lean in the sun’s orientation. These leaves fall when they are still green.

Ash tree leaf identification chart with images of White Ash leaf, Green Ash leaf, Black Ash leaf, Mountain Ash leaf, and Blue Ash leaf in circle frames.

Ash Tree Flowers

Ash trees are dioecious, meaning that female and male flowers grow on different trees, although a tree can also have both on different branches. Both female and male flowers are purple and appear before their leaves in spring. Its flowers grow in clusters at the end of the twigs.

Ash Tree Fruits

Once the wind has aided in the pollination of the female flowers, they develop into noticeable ‘keys,’ or winged fruits in autumn and summer. In early spring and winter, they detach and fall from the twig, and mammals and birds disperse them.

Ash Tree Habitat

Ash does well in fertile, well-drained, and deep soil in cool environments. It is a native5 of Africa, Asia Minor, and Europe and is also found in North America. It is the third most common tree in Great Britain.

Ash Tree Bark

Ash is a smooth-grained colored hardwood. Its distinctive beige-to-light-brown and straight-grain color make it an attractive option for exquisite furniture. It is among the most durable wood varieties and has a long furniture-making history.

The wood is aesthetically pleasing, lightweight, durable, and perfectly absorbs wood stains. Its trait of being shock-resistant and lightweight makes it a favorite for tool handles, restaurant furniture, and baseball bats.

Ash Tree Types and Varieties: What Are They?

There are a number of varieties of Ash Trees, some of the common to North America and other continents, include the following.

#1. Black Ash Tree
(Fraxinus nigra)

The wood structure of the species makes it a good choice for weaving due to its elastic properties. It thrives in cold and wet areas, and wildlife like it, as birds and animals come to it to eat seeds. Moose and deer also like to chew their leaves and branches.3

Eye-level view of Black Ash Tree with lush green leaves.

(Image: Ayotte, Gilles, 1948-16)

Its thick gray bark becomes scaly and fissured as it matures and ages. This tree has 7 to 13 leaflets in its compound leaf group. And its leaves turn yellow during fall.

Professionals don’t recommend cultivating it since it is the most devastating ash species by emerald ash borer and ash tree disease. It is a native of the northeastern US and eastern Canada and grows 50 to 80 feet tall.3

Closeup of Fraxinus pennsylvanica tree showing its green flat fruits, branches, and leaves.

(Image: Jerzy Opioła17)

#2. Green Ash Tree
(Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

It is one of the most familiar ashes worldwide and is severely impacted by ash tree disease. The species can thrive in various soil conditions and withstand salt in urban areas and pollution. It is commonly known as water ash, swamp ash, and red Ash, and its gray-brown bark mimics a diamond-like pattern.

Its medium-green leaves turn into different shades of yellow in fall and include 5 to 9 leaflets. Red Ash is planted as a shade tree, and it grows to a height of 50 to 70 feet. The species is native to northern and eastern North America.3

#3. White Ash Tree
(Fraxinus americana)

The ash tree species is common in North America and is greatly affected by ash tree disease. It is commonly known as Baltimore ash, and it is the largest native ash tree species.

Close up view of White Ash Tree leaves.

(Image: Virens (Latin for greening)15)

As it ages, it develops into a fully rounded crown that resembles a pyramid, and its gray bark develops a diamond-shaped ridges pattern as it matures.3 The leaves are whitish-green on the underside and dark green on top and form clusters of 5 to 9 leaflets and turn purplish yellow in fall.

Blue Ash tree showing its large trunk and long branches with green leaves.

(Image: Mason Brock (Masebrock)19)

#4. Blue Ash Tree (Fraxinus quadrangulate)

Its name is derived from the tree’s inner bark turning blue when exposed to the air and is used to make dye.

A differentiating trait of the species is the square shape of the shoots. The leaves of this tree form clusters of 7-11 leaflets and turn dull yellow and gray in fall. When mature, its gray bark6 forms an irregular plate.3

Though it does well in medium to wet locations, it is best for dry places. Traditionally used as a street tree, the tree is considered to have a higher chance of surviving the emerald ash borer. It is native to the Midwestern United States and grows to 50 to 75 feet.

#5. Mountain Ash Tree

It is a small to medium tree with light grayish bark and is oval at maturity. It produces white flowers in spring that are pollinated and brings forth long-lasting orange berries that birds like. The Mountain ash has tooth-like leaves which are pinnately compound and turn yellow to reddish in fall and dark-dull green in summer.4

Closeup of Mountain Ash tree showing its pinnate leaves and clusters of orange berry-like fruits.

(Image: Jonik18)

Huge Arizona Ash tree with rich green foliage situated on a dry-looking plain with a mountain range and the blue sky in its background.

(Image: Stan Shebs8)

#6. Arizona Ash Tree
(Fraxinus velutina)

It is commonly known as velvet ash, desert ash, Fresno ash, leatherleaf ash, and smooth Ash. The tree is a stately and upright tree with a canopy of deep green leaves. With proper care, it survives up to 50 years.

While young, it displays a smooth, light-gray bark that turns more textural, darker, and rougher as the tree ages. It provides a great shade and grows to 30 to 40 feet and is a native of southwestern United States.

#7. Texas Ash Tree
(Fraxinus albicans)

It is a medium-sized tree that is 2 feet across and grows up to 30-45 feet. Its leaflets usually are 5 and rounded and form brilliant colors in fall.

Young trees of this ash species produce a light-gray and smooth bark that turns medium gray with shallow fissures as the tree matures.

Texas Ash tree showing its green leaves and clusters of fruits.

(Image: Mason Brock (Masebrock)20)

Close-up of Raywood Ash Tree red and purplish flower buds in spring.Димитър Найденов / Dimìtar Nàydenov.

(Image: Димитър Найденов / Dimìtar Nàydenov.9)

#8. Raywood Ash Tree
(Fraxinus oxycarpa)

It is a fine-textured tree capable of towering above 80 feet but commonly 40-50 feet tall. As it ages, it opens into a complete and rounded canopy.

When young, it is oval or upright. Its dark green and lustrous leaves create a light shade under the canopy, making it a good lawn experimental tree.

The leaves of the tree turn into shades of red to purple before autumn.

#9. Modesto Ash Tree
(Fraxinus velutina ‘Modesto’)

It is a cultivar from Arizona ash. It grows narrower and compacted than its parent and has bright green leaves with 5 leaflets each. These leaves turn golden-yellow in fall.

Modesto ash has a trunk of interlocking ridges and velvety branches.

Close up view of Modesto Ash Tree with dry leaves.

(Image: Forest & Kim Starr10)

Close-up shot of a Shamel Ash tree.

(Image: Forest & Kim Starr11)

#10. Shamel Ash Tree
(Fraxinus uhdei)

Commonly referred to as tropical Ash, this ash tree species is native to Central America and Mexico. It is often planted as a street tree in the southwestern United States and Mexico and has also been spread to Hawaii. It is fast-growing, has extensive and semi-evergreen foliage, and grows 80 feet.

#11. Oregon Ash Tree
(Fraxinus latifolia)

It is the only ash species native to the Pacific Northwest.

When mature, it attains a height of 60-80 feet. As it grows, it develops short and narrow crowns with long branches. Its root system is shallow, densely fibrous, and wide-spreading.

Close-up photo of an Oregon ash tree leaves.

(Image: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT12)

The tree is intermediate in tolerance and thrives in a mild to humid climate.

Eye level view of Bonita Ash tree with green leaves.

(Image: Kenraiz14)

#12. Bonita Ash Tree
(Fraxinus velutina)

Bonita ash is an improved hybrid of Arizona ash. It grows to 30 feet and has a 25 feet canopy.

The tree has dense green leaves, which turn into an orange-yellow color in the fall. Since it is an all-male tree, it does not produce seed pods.

Ash Tree Diseases: Invasive Species Borer Beetle, What is It?

Emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle pest of the ash trees. It is a member of Buprestidae, a beetle family, and damages trees leading to their death.1

Close-up frontal snapshot of a tiny Borer beetle on top of a yellow leaf with a black background.

(Image: Erik Karits13)

Emerald ash borer is native to the Russian Far East, Japan, China, Mongolia, Korea, and Taiwan. Research in 2002 discovered that the pest is responsible for the destruction and deaths of ash trees in the United States. Adult borer beetles7 are slender, elongated, and metallic-emerald green.1

How to Grow Ash Trees: What You Should Do?

Pick a location with full sunlight, 40-60 or more inches away from other structures, to prevent ash tree roots and branches from causing problems. Ensure that the soil pH is between 4 and 7, then dig a hole double the width of the root ball and one foot in depth.4

Graphic of Ash Tree seed pod identification chart with white ash, black ash, blue ash, green ash, and carolina ash in oval frames.

(Blue Ash Image: Matt Berger22 and Carolina Ash Image: Siddarth Machado23)

Proceed to gently firm the soil around the roots, then excavate a small moat around the tree’s base, but don’t damage the roots, and fill the moat with water. Ensure that you prune and water it.

Folklore, Significance, and Medicinal Qualities of Ash Trees

The tree was thought to have mystical and medicinal properties, and its wood was exhumed to keep off evil spirits. According to Norse mythology, Ash was the ‘Tree of Life, and the first human on earth came from the tree. It is still referred to as the ‘Venus of the Woods.’

The druids regarded its ashes as sacred in Britain, and their wands were made of it.

Today, its young, green, and immature seeds are eaten and used as medicinal herbs.

How Much Carbon Do Ash Trees Sequester? Is it Enough?

An ash tree sequesters roughly 25 kilograms of carbon dioxide annually. Each cubic meter of wood absorbs less than 1 ton of carbon monoxide per year. By the time it reaches 40 years, it will have absorbed 1 ton of carbon monoxide.

In order to save them, the Ash tree must be protected from emerald ash borer beetles and ash tree disease to preserve them from extinction, and governments, organizations, and individuals should work together to achieve this.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ash Tree

What Is Special About the Ash Tree?

They restore natural systems.

How Do I Identify an Ash Tree?

It has: compound leaves with 5-9 leaflets, diamond-shaped bark ridges when mature, and its buds, leaflets, and branches grow opposite from one another.4

Why Is It Called an Ash Tree?

The word means spear. People used it in the middle ages to make a spear.

Is Ash Tree Native to the UK?

It is native to Africa, Asia Minor, and Europe and is also found in the Arctic Circle.


1Whitescarver Natural Resources Management LLC. (2019, July 21). Ash Trees—a Celebration and a Lament. Whitescarver Natural Resources Management LLC. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from <>

2IUCN. (2017, September 14). Once-abundant ash tree and antelope species face extinction – IUCN Red List. IUCN. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from <–-iucn-red-list>

3Myers, V. R. (2022, May 25). 13 Species of Ash Trees. the Spruce Make your best home. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from <>

4Coulter, L. (2020, March 30). Ash Tree Guide: How to Grow This American Beauty. HGTV. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from <>

5The Woodland Trust. (2022). Ash (Fraxinus excelsior). Woodland Trust. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from <>

6Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. (2022). What’s an Ash Tree? Emerald Ash Borer in Wisconsin. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from <>

7Forest Research. (2022). Emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus planipennis). Forest Research. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from <>

8Fraxinus velutina 1 Photo by Stan Shebs / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported  Generic (CC BY-SA 3.0 Deed). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

9Fraxinus oxycarpa – flowers Photo by Димитър Найденов / Dimìtar Nàydenov / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International ( CC BY-SA 4.0 ). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

10Starr 071222-0306 Fraxinus velutina Photo by Forest & Kim Starr / Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

11Starr 030405-0112 Fraxinus uhdei Photo by Forest & Kim Starr / Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

12Fraxinus latifolia JPG1Fe Photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT / Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

13Erik Karits. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

14Fraxinus velutina kz06 Photo by Kenraiz / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International ( CC BY-SA 4.0 ). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

15Fraxinus americana – White Ash leaves Photo by Virens (Latin for greening) / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

16Fraxinus nigra Photo by Ayotte, Gilles, 1948-Bibliothèque de l’Université Laval / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International ( CC BY-SA 4.0 ). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

17Fraxinus pensylvanica a1 Photo by Jerzy Opioła / Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

18Rowanberries in late August 2004 in Helsinki Photo by Jonik / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic ( CC BY-SA 2.0 ). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

19Fraxinus quadrangulata Photo by Mason Brock (Masebrock). Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <>

20Fraxinus albicans by Mason Brock (Masebrock), CC0. Resized, via Wikimedia Commons <>

21Meadow, Pedriza, Madrid Photo by Ramon Perucho (rperucho). (2018, May 20) / Pixabay Content License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Pixabay. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from <>

22Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata) Photo by Matt Berger (sheriff_woody_pct) / CC BY 4.0 DEED | Attribution 4.0 International. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. iNaturalist. Retrieved March 7, 2024, from <>

23Carolina Ash (Fraxinus caroliniana) Photo by Siddarth Machado (siddarthmachado) / CC BY 4.0 DEED | Attribution 4.0 International. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. iNaturalist. Retrieved March 7, 2024, from <>