Velvet Ash, Desert Ash, Leatherleaf Ash, Modesto Ash
Southern California to New Mexico, and south to Jalisco
- Full Sun
- Attracts Pollinators
About This Plant
Arizona Ash is a short-lived, very fast-growing ash that provides dappled shade. The leaves and twigs have noticeable “velvet” hairs. Trunks are distinctly furrowed and branch fairly low to the ground. In the 20th century, Arizona ash was an instant tree to put square in the middle of a new lawn. Although many have died, established specimens are still ubiquitous. “Fan-Tex” is a variety developed by Fanick’s Nursery in San Antonio, with attractive drought-hardy form and thick, smooth leaves. Though Arizona ash is derided as a “trash tree,” many of its problems can be chalked up to its short lifespan and its overuse. It should have never been heavily planted in Texas in the first place. It suffers from being too large for small sites and, consequently, from bad pruning. Borers, shallow roots, web worms, and anthracnose fungus (in wet weather) are also problems. Emerald ash borers are expected to kill most of the ash trees in the U.S. and Texas; they were first detected in East Texas in 2016. It is technically feasible to inject insecticides to save significant trees for about three years at a time, but this will likely be beyond the means of most homeowners.
If structural integrity can be carefully maintained by a good arborist, Arizona ash can live fifty years or more; otherwise, it generally begins to lose the first big branches after twenty years, and quickly declines. Many local homeowners attempt drastic topping measures in order to salvage it. Topping shortens it’s lifespan. Pruning cuts should only be made at a bud or branch; in general, focus on minimizing the number of dead, damaged, or rubbing branches. As with any tree, remove no more than 25% of the canopy during any five-year cycle. Leave the upper 2/3 of any tree’s crown uncut to maintain a healthy specimen, never removing more than the lowest third of the tree in a single pruning period.
30-50' H, 30-50' W
Clay, Sandy, Well drained