Arizona Ash

Fraxinus velutina

Also called Velvet Ash, Desert Ash, Leather Leaf Ash, Smooth Ash, Toumey As, Fresno Ash and Modesto Ash.

Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Status: Native
Origin: Found in foothills and mountain canyons from California to Texas. In Arizona, native to riparian areas between 3,500 and 7,000 feet elevation.
Family: Oleaceae
Size: 40′ tall and wide
Sun: Full, but the trunk can be scalded by the western sun if the canopy is trimmed heavily
Watering: Regular
Growth Rate: Moderate
Soil: Tolerant, including alkaline soils
Temperature: Tolerant if canopy left full
Pruning: As desired to elevate the canopy base
Disease and Pests: Scale and aphids are minor cosmetic problems that appear on ash tree foliage only during early spring. Ash decline (Phytoplasma organism) in contrast is a progressive, lethal problem that will generally slowly kill otherwise healthy trees over a 5 to 10 year time span. In Phoenix, ash decline is mostly localized in pockets around the metropolitan region spreading geographically relatively slowly. Symptoms of this disease are leaf discoloration and small branch dieback showing each year in mid summer. There is no cure for this disease and Arizona ash trees with ash decline should be well fertilized and irrigated to prolong their eventual demise.
Uses: Bird nesting habitat
Notes: Yellow to golden fall color. If Ash Decline is present in surrounding neighborhoods, select a different species of tree.

Cultivars include:

  • ‘Berrinda’ – rounded form to 40′ tall
  • ‘Bonita’ – male clones with an oval shaped canopy that are more cold and drought tolerant
  • ‘Rio Grande’ or ‘Fan Tex’ – seedless with glossy leaves and near white bark
  • ‘Modesto’ – selected from the western range in California


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