Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Arizona Ash, Velvet Ash, Modesto Ash, Desert Ash, Leatherleaf Ash, Smooth Ash, Toumey Ash, Fresno As
Fraxinus velutina

Family: Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Fraxinus (FRAK-si-nus) (Info)
Species: velutina (vel-oo-TEE-nuh) (Info)

Synonym:Fraxinus pennsylvanica subsp. velutina

3 members have or want this plant for trade.


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage
Good Fall Color

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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to view:

By htop
Thumbnail #1 of Fraxinus velutina by htop

By htop
Thumbnail #2 of Fraxinus velutina by htop

By htop
Thumbnail #3 of Fraxinus velutina by htop

By htop
Thumbnail #4 of Fraxinus velutina by htop

By htop
Thumbnail #5 of Fraxinus velutina by htop

By Kelli
Thumbnail #6 of Fraxinus velutina by Kelli

By frostweed
Thumbnail #7 of Fraxinus velutina by frostweed

There are a total of 22 photos.
Click here to view them all!


5 positives
1 neutral
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Themomma On May 20, 2014, Themomma from Alamogordo, NM wrote:

I have 4 of these trees. 3 are doing beautifully, 1 not so much. I water 2x a week and 1 gets watered every time I do laundry also. Mine haven't gotten as bis as everyone says but they do provide needed shade here in the hot NM desert. I just don't understand why my 4th puny one isn't doing as well as the other 3. They were all planted the same time and way. I have had problems with the gophers out here on that tree but finally solved that problem. I don't fertilize them as much as some people do. I mainly throw my dogs leavings spread out between all 4. I've also made highly concentrated manure "juice" and watered that in. After 10 yrs my trees are still going strong and the damaging winds we get haven't torn them down. Overall I'm happy but concerened for that one tree.

Positive Anna123 On Oct 11, 2010, Anna123 from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

I have one of these trees in my front yard in Phoenix, AZ. It was planted in the late 70's. I have been caring for it for 11 years.

I'm not a great arborist, but the tree is very beautiful and has not been much trouble. It grows beautiful with little effort. I have a lawn so I fertilize it when I put lawn fertilizer down and when I water the lawn it gets watered.

It tends to get really really big so I have it thinned and some limbs cut short every few years at a cost of about $200 each time. I have had it thinned 3 times in 11 years.

It provides great shade and it is an attractive tree. I have a male so no seeds and it isn't particularly sappy either.

My only complaint is that the tree is deciduous. It is a really big tree, so when it decides to drop leaves it just coats the neighborhood. My neighbors hate the tree and I end up having to go rake my yard and my neighbors yards because this tree produces an amazing quantity of leaves. I suppose any deciduous tree has this problem.

I'm moving into a new house which has a few of these and they are all very sick looking. I fear they have the borers or some other disease. Also someone put a plant ring of those stupid retaining wall bricks around them and now the roots are a foot off the natural ground and swirling around in this tree ring. The trees in the yard at the new house are bulging out of the ground and causing problems with cracks in the driveway and the roots are all over the surface. I think this must be related to poor care and maintenance because the tree I have at the old house is very nice.

Positive uglysteve On Oct 25, 2009, uglysteve from Apache Junction, AZ wrote:

I planted 3 of these trees this summer. They did not mind being transplanted in the heat (100+ F), and are growing well.

Positive magpie38 On Apr 26, 2009, magpie38 from Houston, TX wrote:

The tree occupies a prominent place in my front yard (in Houston), and was already 30 ft tall when I bought the house. Yes, I would rather have a live oak, and I have read all of the negatives. I spend about $300 per year to an arborist for deep feeding and anthracnose prophylaxis, and I have it thinned every other year. I must observe that last year when hurricane Ike shredded my neighbors' live oaks, my lowly ash lost nary a branch.

Neutral rntx22 On Nov 17, 2008, rntx22 from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Good looking, fast growing, big and majestic, good for shade, decent fall color in the south. Was a good tree.... until hurricane Ike came through. Many people in my parents neighborhood had them, yet ours was the only one uprooted. As long as you don't live in a hurricane area, it is a nice tree.

Negative Twincol On Nov 1, 2008, Twincol from Fresno, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

It saddens me to place a negative as "experience" here. There is little I can add to Starshinetx's description. My city planted a huge number of the Modesto Ash variety in then-new neighborhoods in the 1940's and 1950's. Many were placed within the 6-foot-wide street side parking strips. The City maintains them, after a fashion, poorly.

One tree was removed in the late 1970's, as the main trunk was split down the center. One photo highlights what appears to be the suggestion of an incipient trunk split facing it. It seems likely that the limb failures in my street tree were the result of pre-existing rot and/or insect damage, as it always occurs at a V-joint, rather than mid-limb, as might be expected of low hanging limbs over the street. This variety, anyway, seems not long-lived beyond the first 30 years, perhaps, diseased and deteriorating past that. Sad, as they are stunning trees in their prime, as illustrated by frostweed's photo

Negative Starshinetx On Jun 4, 2006, Starshinetx from Santa Fe, TX wrote:

We have 4 of these trees which were planted in the mid 1950's making them 50 years old and 20-30 years past their prime. We are now being forced to remove the trees, at great expense, as they have begun to drop massive limbs and crushed anything below them (like my van and the cyclone fence that surrounds the house. The trees do not age well in my area and are prone to web worm, borers, stinging asps, ants and termites. Once attacked there seems to be no easy cure and once the insects get a good foothold in the tree the tree will rot and since the wood is so brittle to begin with they have a tendancy to drop massive limbs making it necessary to remove the tree...often at great expense. Since the wood is so brittle, it is poorly adapted to this area because of the forces of nature common here in hurricanes and tropical storms with high winds and torrential rains. The shallow roots give way in times when the ground is over saturated and high winds catch the canopy and topple the tree. But, more often than not, the long brittle limbs will snap before taking the tree over. If planted too close (within 20-30 feet) of a house or other structure, the results become disastrous as the heavy limbs will fall through a building or crush a vehicle under them, as we discovered firsthand.
I would highly recommend that anyone in the Gulf Coast area planning to use these trees, think long and hard about the future consequences which could in fact be extremely costly. In spite of the fact that local builders love to plant them because they are so fast growing, they remain a very poor choice for this area.

My home in Santa Fe, TX is only a handful of miles from Galveston Island. On the evening of Septemeber 12, 2008 we experienced the devastation of Hurricane Ike. Unfortunately, we had NOT been able to have our trees removed and the one nearest the house broke off and fell over into my house, totally destroying it and leaving us homeless.

My recommendation to anyone with an aging ash tree showing ANY signs of disease or rot is to get rid of it as fast as you can. There is NOT a way to save the tree. They have only a 30 year lifespan and past that are just not worth the damage they can cause.

If you are considering planting one I leave you with these suggestions based on my experience with them.
1 ) Plant them at least 75 feet from any structures.
2 ) Have a professional tree trimmer care for them and trim them on a yearly basis
3 ) Do NOT build or leave anything near them that you care about as when they fall or break, they destroy everything in their path.
4 ) Make sure they receive plenty of water and are fertilized on a regular basis to keep them healthy.
5 ) Don't plant them within 50 feet of a septic drain system.

If you choose an ash, I wish you better luck than we've had. Yes, they grow fast and huge but they also grow dangerous with age.


Positive Kelli On Jan 16, 2005, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I am not 100% certain, but I think this is the ash that people have planted around here. The trees were probably planted in the 1950s and now they are huge and beautiful. The fall color is nice. I don't have one in my yard so I can't say anything about invasive roots or lack thereof, or any cultural problems, but they don't appear to have any kind of disease or pest problem here.

Negative htop On Jan 2, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
The Arizona ash is a fast growing deciduous tree native to Arizona and parts of Southwestern New Mexico. It is widely planted as a shade tree where summers are long, hot and dry and where soils are alkaline. Foliage turns yellow in autumn. The male and female flowers are on separate trees with the fruit being in the form of seeds that hang in clusters. The fruit will grow on female trees only if it is near a male tree. It can be decimated by borers (under the bark and into the wood layers) in the summer and its roots, when the tree is older, protrude from the ground. It is a very poor choice for Texas landscapes in the long run. After the borers infiltrate the tree, it rapidly declines and must be removed. I would not recommend this tree at least in my area.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Apache Junction, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Prescott, Arizona
Sedona, Arizona
Tombstone, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Bishop, California
Fresno, California
Las Vegas, Nevada
Pahrump, Nevada
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Alpine, Texas
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Irving, Texas
Katy, Texas
La Porte, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Victoria, Texas

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