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

7 comments “Arizona Ash / Velvet Ash”

How would one go about transplanting a young (6-foot) sapling? We have one right up against our house and the roots are already causing problems.

Hello,   I have an ash tree growing right outside my door in Tanner West Virginia that after perusing the varieties that grow in the Eastern United States I have come to call velvet ash because of the green- greenish white dense hairs that grow in the stems that are so dense it does feel like velvet.  The other ash in the east with hairs on the stem is green ash and the hairs are not very dense at all. I thought I had an origianl name until I saw a Sierra Club magazine describing the velvet ash comeback in Aravaipa Canyon so  your site is the first to come up and let’s me see that the tree I have is not the velvet ash native to the Southwest.  The leaves are usually  7 to 9 pinnate and are wide… wider that nost ashes that grow here.  I had thought that perhaps a universtiy might be interested in it for a possible comeback ash from the ash borer infestation that has gripped the east if it were really unique. Here is hoping that you do more to stop that scourge than the states in the east have! 

I live in Altadena, California  and have 4 large Ash trees in my front yard. I am not quite sure as to the exact species but it sure looks like a Arizona/Velvet variety. I took some pictures to help in the positive identification of it. 
Where may I send these images and get an expert’s advice ? 

Hi Derek, You could try the UC Berkeley Dendrology department. Thanks, Sue

Hi Yvonne, This ash is not known for lots of diseases, but if you suspect an issue, contact your local nursery or check with a certified arborist. Thanks! Sue

Thanks for your information and for visiting our site! You may want to contact Virginia Tech dendrology. Thanks, Sue

When the tree is dormant, water the tree area thoroughly. Get as much of the rootball as possible. Transplant immediately. Thanks, Sue


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