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TREES & plants

White ash (Not recommended)

The bark of white ash is narrowly ridged and furrowed.

Due to susceptibility to emerald ash borer (EAB), white ash is not recommended for planting anywhere in this region and usually requires removal and/or replacement. White ash, a native woodland tree found throughout the Midwest, had been used extensively as a shade and street tree. Currently, ash trees cannot be sold in Illinois. Check with your state for quarantine restrictions. 

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.  

Botanical name: 
Fraxinus americana
All Common Names: 
white ash, American ash
Family (English): 
Olive
Family (Botanic): 
Oleaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area, 
  • Illinois, 
  • North America
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
50-80 feet
Mature Width: 
50-80 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3, 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8, 
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Intolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Intolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Tolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Weak wood and branch structure
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Fall color, 
  • Persistent fruit/seeds
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
Wildlife: 
  • Game birds, 
  • Insect pollinators, 
  • Mammals, 
  • Migrant birds, 
  • Sapsuckers, 
  • Songbirds
More Information: 

Disease, pests, and problems

Susceptibility to the emerald ash borer makes this tree unsuitable for the landscape.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 5

Bark color and texture 

The bark is light gray and loosely ridged and furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Compound leaves are in pairs (opposite), with 5 to 9 leaflets on each leaf.
Leaves are dark green in summer, changing to purplish in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male and female flowers on separate trees (dioecious).  Not ornamentally important.
Flowers appear in spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are winged seeds borne in clusters.

Fraxinus americana or White ash (Not recommended)