Arizona Ash

Fraxinus velutina

Velvet Ash, Desert Ash, Leatherleaf Ash, Modesto Ash

About This Plant

Arizona Ash is a short-lived, fast-growing ash that provides dappled shade. Trunks branch fairly low to the ground; the leaves and twigs have noticeable “velvet” hairs. (“Fan-Tex” is a variety developed by Fanick’s Nursery in San Antonio, with drought-hardy form and thicker, smoother leaves.) Though often derided as a “trash tree,” Arizona ash’s problems can be┬ápartially chalked up to its short lifespan and its overuse; in the 20th century, it was an instant tree to put square in the middle of a new lawn. It is often too large for small sites.

Origins: Southern California to New Mexico, and south to Jalisco


Borers, shallow roots, web worms, and (in wet weather) anthracnose fungus can afflict Arizona ash. If structural integrity can be maintained, it can live fifty years or more. Pruning cuts should focus on minimizing the dead, damaged, or rubbing branches; avoid topping.

A big and fast-growing suburban shade tree, but not famously long-lived.

Min. Height: 30'

Max Height: 50 feet'

Min. Width: 30'

Max Width: 50 feet'

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