- Fraxinus, from the Latin for ash tree
- nigra, from the Latin, "black"
- Common Name from the dark appearance of the leaves relative to the
other ash species.
- Other common names include Brown Ash, Hoop Ash, Basket Ash, Frêne
- Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
- Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
- Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
- Subclass Asteridae
- Order Scrophulariales
- Family Oleaceae, the Olives
- Genus Fraxinus, the Ashes
- Taxonomic Serial Number: 32945
- A medium-sized deciduous tree of wet places, 30'-50' tall.
- Leaves opposite and pinnately compound, 9"-16" long
with 7-13 leaflets
- Leaflets 3"-5" long and 1"-2" wide
with toothed edges
- Surface dark green above, lighter green beneath
with some rusty hairs.
- Leaflet stalks absent except for the end
- Fall Color purple to brown.
- Trunk diameter of 10"-12"
- Branches stout, straight, upright branches form
an open, narrow or slightly rounded crown. coarse ascending branches
and a slender, sometimes bent or leaning trunk which extends almost
to the top of a narrow crown.
- Bark grey, relatively smooth, later becoming
corky-ridged and shallowly furrowed or fissured; divided into large
irregular plates with thin, soft, papery scales that rub off easily.
Frequent knobs on the trunk.
- Roots shallow, wide-spreading; on wet sites are
subject to windthrow.
- Flowers small and inconspicuous
- Fruit an elongated, winged, single-seeded samara,
1"-1 3/4" long and 3/8" wide, borne in terminal or axillary clusters.
- Identifiable as an Ash by its compound leaves with toothed and pointed
- Distinguished from the Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
by its leaflets without stalks, attached directly to the midrib of the
- Newfoundland west to SE Manitoba and eastern North Dakota; south to
Iowa; east to southern Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia; and north from
northern Virginia to Delaware and New Jersey.
- A tree of wet places, most commonly moist to wet muck or shallow organic
soils; in swamps, along small streams in gullies, and in small poorly
drained depressions. It also grows on fine sands and loams underlain
by clays and on other poorly drained sites with high water tables. In
uplands restricted to sites with impeded drainage, where it grows on
wetter than normal mineral soils.
- Pioneer in Great Lakes States. Present but not abundant in mature
forests dominated by Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea),
Birch (Betula papyrifera), Tamarack
(Larix laricina), spruce (Picea
spp.), Elm (Ulmus americana), and White Cedar (Thuja
occidentalis). In NE Minnesota, seedlings invade open areas
in maple-basswood forests.
- Major hardwood on lowlands in the northern Great Lakes States along
with American Elm (Ulmus americana) and Red Maple (Acer
rubrum). Typically a successional species with Black Spruce
(Picea mariana) in bogs or where
there is excess water.
- Seedlings, saplings, and sprouts tend to dominate the regeneration
layer where partial openings in the canopy have occurred.
- Shade intolerant
- Easily damaged by fire; depending on fire severity, probably killed
- Probably survives fire by sprouting from the root crown following
top-damage from fire. A prolific seeder, probably regenerates from wind-dispersed
- Trees: Red Maple (Acer
rubrum), Black Spruce (Picea mariana),
American Elm (Ulmus americana)
- Shrubs: Speckled Alder (Alnus
incana), Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus
sericea), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Bog Laurel
(Kalmia polifolia), Labrador
Tea (Ledum groenlandicum),
Willows (Salix spp.), Late Low Blueberry (Vaccinum
angustifolium), Small Cranberry (Vaccinium
- Herbs: Asters (Aster spp.), Marsh Marigold
Blue Bead Lily (Clintonia borealis),
Goldthread (Coptis trifolia),
Bedstraws (Galium spp.),
Jewelweed (Impatiens spp.), Blue Flag Iris (Iris
versicolor), Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum
canadense), Bishop's Cap (Mitella
nuda), Pyrolas (Pyrola spp.), Bog False Solomon's
Seal (Smilacina stellata),
Starflower (Trientalis borealis),
Violets (Viola spp.), Club Spur Orchid, Blunt Leaf Orchid
- Ground Covers: Clubmosses (Lycopodium spp.)
- Mammals: Twigs and leaves provide spring and summer
browse for white-tailed deer and moose.
- Birds: Seeds important food for Wood Duck (Aix
sponsa), game birds and songbirds. Preferred lowland nesting species
for Wood Duck.
- During the last Ice Age, a minor component of the vast White Spruce
forest which covered the Great Plains and eastern US, just south of
the windswept tundra bordering the great ice sheets. One of the earliest
species, along with spruce, to follow the retreating ice northward.
- Native Americans used wood for basketmaking.
- Wood lighter in weight and not as strong or hard as other ashes; used
for interior finishing, furniture, and cabinets.
- Baskets can be woven from slats produced by pounding a wet block of
wood until it separates along the annual growth rings.
- Germination requires stratification and a period
of cold temperatures. Most seed do not germinate until the second spring
after seedfall; some seed may lie dormant for up to 8 years.
- Seedling development: Capable of germinating in hardwood
leaf litter or under 1/4"-3/4" of soil. About 2" in 2 weeks; may average
6" by the end of first growing season. Often grow more slowly than seedlings
of associated species such as American Elm and Red Maple.
- Vegetative Reproduction: sprouts readily from stumps
up to 12" in diameter and can exhibit fast growth. Will also root sucker.
- Flowers appear in May or June, with or just before the leaves. Fruits
ripen June-September and are dispersed July-October.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
- Requires full sun and ample moisture. Quite tolerant of poorly drained
soils but not tolerant of severe drought. Very hardy; USDA Zone 3a.
- Soil pH 4.5-6.5
- Spread of 20'-35'
- Relatively fast growing and long lived.
Last updated on
4 March, 2006