I was fairly confident this plant is [I]Fraxinus pennsylcanica[/I]. It has the correct leaves, leaf scars, buds, new growth colour, flowers, etc. However it is a large shrub not a tree. Can Green Ash be shrubs or are they only tree?
Can Green Ash be a shrub?
They normally grow to single-stemmed tree form. Could you post photos please?
Might you have seen a Chionanthus. It might have some of the similarities you mention. It's hard to "see" what you saw without a picture. All of us pick up on different aspects. So descriptions alone are VERY unreliable. If you can't provide a photo, give more information: when was it in bloom, where did you see it, what was the thickness of the trunk and branches, did the branches grow from a trunk/ base or from the ground, etc. I doubt it is Fraxinus pennsylvanica because you mention it in flower. Although a F. pennsylvanica might appear shrub-like if it had been cut off near the base and multiple shoots had come up, it would still be very much a tree by the time it flowered, probably looking more like a clump of trees than a shrub.
While both mentioned species are opposite in arrangement (and both members of Oleaceae), none of the other elements of identification are similar.
Fraxinus pennsylvanica has pinnately compound foliage; exaggerated hemispherical leaf scars under brown buds; and insignificant small greenish-purple flowers in early spring. Not mentioned, but Green Ash seeds are flattened dry samaras in clusters.
Chionanthus virginicus has simple foliage, grayish protruding buds inset into roundish leaf scars; and quite showy fragrant pendulous white flowers in late spring. White Fringe Tree forms fleshy dark blue/black fruit.
Both species are dioecious, so staminate flowers are on separate plants from pistillate flowers, and fruit occurs on the "female" plants.
Otherwise, I agree with sladeofsky's descriptions. Could likely be a resprout from a cut-down plant. Images help immensely.
Concur with Viburnum
Almost any tree can end up a shrub if something goes wrong with the top and it resprouts branches lower down. Usually you can see where the old trunk was, but not always. Some trees and shrubs self prune lower shaded branches to make trunks, but again not always.
After looking at your pictures I don't think this is Fraxinus pennsylvanica. The dried leaves, although they are very withered and curled and their shape is hard to make out, appear to be simple leaves. Also, although your shrub might have been pruned at the base at some point, the "shrubbiness" of this plant appears to be a natural tendency of the plant. Notice how it branches often and very low on the base. I am still not sure yet, but those qualities stand out to me.
Although you have provide awesomely clear images of stems and buds, you are being a bit stingy with the prime piece of information! In the fifth photo of your 11:43 a.m. posting, it appears that there is a substantial remnant seedhead. That looks like it could belong to a Syringa sp., as your last post queries. It definitely appears distinctive, and should be able to provide a definitive species ID at least. Take some more incredibly clear closeup pics of that, and we may have something.
This plant is definitely NOT Fraxinus sp., and I agree with sladeofsky that the remnant leaf part appears to be a simple leaf. All that fits with Lilac.
There is a peculiar "squarishness" to some of the twigs you've shown - that should also be an aid. Now, I want to go walk around the yard and compare with specimens I can touch/inspect.
It looks to definitely have a terminal flowering point/seedhead - that would rule out Chionanthus virginicus, since it usually flowers in the axils AND it has a fleshy fruit - not a dry seedhead structure.
I'm not ready to go out on a (shrubby) limb just yet with a guess, but I'm leaning hard toward something like Syringa reticulata or Syringa pekinensis. I just don't see the swollen terminal buds that look right for those species. Hmmm....
Ahh... I noticed the dried fruits in picture 5 to which John refers, however I read them as being new leaves. That will help, especially with a closer picture of them. But, I don't think lilac flowers resemble those of ash except for being on panicles. Jaclynf, could you please describe as thoroughly as possible (and as much as you can remember) the flowers you observed?
I do think that Syringa is the best candidate so far.
The seed head is quite high up and out of reach. So I doubt I can get a clear picture but I will try. I have not seen it in flower yet but hopefully soon!