Arizona Ash / Velvet Ash

Arizona Ash

Arizona Ash Tree

Arizona Ash is a fantastic desert shade tree and has an enjoyable shape and a (relatively) cool shade in summer. However, it grows to become a large tree and if you have an aversion to picking leaves in the fall, it might not be the best tree for you. The male and female flowers are on different trees. The male flowers drop in the spring in large quantities, that can be composted rapidly. The female drops large quantities of one-winged seeds (samara), providing you with a continuous source of seedlings. Scientific name: Fraxinus velutina
Family: Oleaceae, Olive Family

Description: A fast-growing perennial deciduous shade tree native to Arizona & parts of Southwestern New Mexico. The “velvet” is a gray fuzz that covers the young twigs and leaves. Young trees are pyramidal, but the shape becomes more rounded and open as mature height is reached. This is an especially useful shade tree where summers are long, hot, and dry, and where soils are alkaline. It is the species (with its varieties) used most in desert areas, commonly planted as a shade & street tree.

Arizona Ash Leaves

Arizona Ash Leaves

Preferred Habitat: Riparian – river galleries – widely planted ornamental

Leaves: consist of 3-5 narrowly oval leaflets, each about 3 inches long. Foliage turns yellow in autumn.

Flowers: Generally inconspicuous, blooms in spring in clusters. Male and female flowers on separate trees.

Fruit: Fruit in the form of seeds, that hang in dense clusters, will grow on female only if it is near a male tree.

Arizona Ash Bark

Arizona Ash Bark

Bark: gray, deeply furrowed into broad, scaly ridges.

Elevation: Up to 7000 feet.

Recommended Temperature Zone: sunset: 8-24, 28-30; USDA: 6-10

Frost Tolerance: Hardy to -10° F (-23° C)

Heat Tolerance: Excellent

Sun Exposure: Full sun

Origin: Southwestern USA (Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah) and northern Mexico

Arizona Ash Male Seeds

Arizona Ash Male Seeds

Growth Habits: Deciduous tree, up to 30 feet tall (10 m) or more

Watering Needs: Moderate water

Propagation: Seeds

Arizona Ash Female Seeds

Arizona Ash Female Seeds

2 comments “Arizona Ash / Velvet Ash”

Hello.  I have lived in Santa Fe for about 8 years and find that I have a bad allergies to Ash tree pollen. It is especially bad when the wind blows – I get terrific migraine headaches.  Can anyone tell me where these ash trees are.  Are they part of the Rio Grande Bosque or is the pollen just coming from ornamental plantings around Santa Fe.   Thanks so much for your info.

While ornamental plantings of Ash are very common in New Mexico, there are native ashes as well. Many ornamental ashes do very well here and some provide great fall color as well.
Honeybees gather ash pollen and many report that taking local honey is helpful to their allergies.


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