There is nothing quite as stunning in fall as the bright flashes of reddish-purple across a landscape awash in a sea of yellowing leaves. You may have wondered what tree adds such brilliance to the fall tapestry. Meet the majestic white ash.
Where You Can Find White Ash Trees
White ash trees can be found growing in Canada, the central and eastern United States and Mexico. They grow in well-drained soils and are often the first trees to make a voluntary appearance in abandoned farm fields. You can also find them in deciduous forests.
Characteristics of the White Ash
The silvery-white underside of the leaves and the pale bark give the white ash tree its name. It is the largest of the ash family, capable of growing to heights of over 98 feet, although specimens typically grow between 50–80 feet tall with a canopy spread of up to 50 feet. They are vigorous growers, developing at a rate of 13-24 inches per year when receiving at least six full hours of direct sunlight per day.
The mature bark of the tree has a diamond-shaped, ridged design, marked by a greyish colour with white spots or streaks. Leaves of the white ash typically grow in clusters of between five and nine leaflets that are dark green on the top and pale underneath. Springtime brings green to purple flowers. In fall, white ash leaves vary from yellow to maroon to deep purple with small fruit than hangs in clusters. Since the tree is deciduous, it loses its leaves in winter.
Besides being a beautiful shade and ornamental tree, white ash is known for the wood used to make baseball bats. It is simultaneously robust, flexible and light. White ash wood is also widely used for furniture, church pews and tool handles, as well as for other sports equipment like hockey sticks and polo mallets.
Threats Posed by the Emerald Ash Borer
The white ash tree is critically endangered due to the invasion of the emerald ash borer. Also known as EAB, this insect was introduced to North America from Asia around 2002. It is thought that the first borers arrived in wood packing materials on cargo ships or airplanes. Since the discovery of the pest in Michigan, it has become the most destructive insect ever to invade North American forests, already killing hundreds of millions of trees.
The EAB, as its name suggests, has a hard, iridescent emerald green shell. The beetle’s tiny white larvae invade the tree by burrowing through the hard outer bark and growing in s-shaped colonies called galleries within the inner bark of the tree. The inner bark, or phloem, provides the larvae plenty of food. Since this is what the tree uses to transport nutrients and water to the leaves, as the colonies grow, the tree is no longer able to sustain itself, and it dies. The beetles spread to nearby trees, laying more eggs to infect the healthy neighbouring trees.
Though there are treatments, the sheer volume of infestations and the speed at which they spread makes saving the trees from extinction a daunting task. Detection is nearly impossible until the trees show signs of distress. Systemic insecticide can be applied by injection or root drench. However, early detection by a professional tree service is still a key determinant in saving infected ashes.
Why a Professional Tree Service Is an Investment in Your Environment
Trees, like people, are susceptible to malnutrition, pathogens and parasites. While we have options to seek treatment, our flora depends upon us to call on the professionals that can diagnose and treat illness before it becomes lethal. Using a professional tree service is a way to protect our environment before it’s too late. When you need help with your trees, contact Martin’s Tree Service today.