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American Ash tree, Planting and care

An extensive group of hardy, leaf-losing trees, most of them of quick growth; they thrive in almost any soil, that is not too dry and usually do well on limestone soils. They are good trees for wind-swept areas and seaside planting. Most of the Ash trees are attractive ornamental trees with handsome foliage; several have showy flowers, a few are of shrubby growth, and a number are important for lumber. With two or three exceptions, Ash trees are natives of the northern hemisphere. Fraxinus is the ancient Latin name of the Ash. These trees belong to the Olive family, Oleaceae.

While Ash trees thrive in ordinary soil, they succeed best in good, fairly moist loam. Planting may be done in early fall or spring.

For Park and Lawn. Ash trees are good subjects for park planting, a number are valuable avenue and roadside trees, and several, including the Weeping Ash, make attractive lawn specimens. They are also good town trees. Ash trees should not be planted as a background for borders of choice shrubs or in small gardens, for the roots are likely to impoverish the soil. Pruning, in early winter, takes the form of thinning crowded branches, shortening long branches which are likely to spoil the shape of the trees, and maintaining a clear central shoot on young trees.

Propagation. The best method of propagating Ash trees is by seeds sown in the autumn in a prepared bed of sandy soil in a border out of doors or, in the case of rare and uncommon kinds, in a flat or pot filled with sandy soil and placed in a cold frame. It is necessary to graft a few of the varieties which do not come true from seeds. Grafting may be done out of doors in spring, the common types or species to which the varieties belong being used as the stock.

The European Ash. Fraxinus excelsior, a native of Europe, is a useful ornamental. There are several distinct varieties of the European Ash. Of these, Fraxinus excelsior heterophylla, which has simple (undivided) leaves, is one of the most important.. It should be raised from seeds to ensure vigorous young trees, though only about 50 per cent come true to character; the others have compound leaves like those of the common form.

The variety pendula is a weeping tree and makes an excellent garden arbor. The bark of the Golden Ash, F. excelsior aurea, becomes yellow in winter on both the trunk and the young branches.

The Narrow-leaved Ash, F. angustifolia, is an  elegant tree, 50-75 ft. high, with narrow leaflets, seven to thirteen on each leaf; it is a native of southern Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, makes an attractive lawn specimen, and is suitable for grouping, but is not hardy in the North.

American Ashes. Fraxinus americana, the North American White Ash, is a fast-growing tree of upright habit, 80-120 ft. high; it has attractive leaves, composed of five to nine leaflets, which turn yellow in autumn. F. pennsylvanica is the North American Red Ash; F. pennsylvanica lanceolata is the North American Green Ash, sometimes called F. viridis, because of its bright green foliage. Both are useful trees. The Green Ash is a good tree for exposed places in the prairie states. F. oregona, the Oregon Ash, is a valuable timber tree in western North America, but is not hardy far north.

Other American Ashes are the Blue Ash, F. quadrangulata, a native from Michigan to Arkansas and F. nigra, the Black Ash, which ranges as a native from Newfoundland to West Virginia and Arkansas. The latter needs moist soil.

Flowering Ash. Fraxinus Ornus, the Manna Ash of southern Europe, is so named because Manna Sugar is obtained from the stems by incision. It forms a round-headed tree, 30-50 ft. high, and is very attractive in May when covered with panicles of white flowers. The Japanese Flowering Ash, F. longicuspis, is a handsome small tree, about 45 ft. high, with panicles of white flowers in June. F. Mariesii, the Chinese Flowering Ash, is a large shrub or small tree, 15-25 ft. high, with purplish-green leaves and cream-white flowers in June.

The ornamental flowering Ashes deserve to be more extensively planted in gardens; they do not develop into such large trees as other kinds and are attractive when in bloom.

Very distinct among the Ash trees are Fraxinus dimorpha, the Algerian Ash; and F. xanthoxyloides, the Afghan Ash. These have very twiggy branchlets and small leaflets. Neither is hardy in the North.

Economic Uses. The wood of various kinds of Fraxinus is very valuable in the lumber trade. It is easily worked, is strong and elastic, and is valued for purposes where wood is subjected to strains and stresses of varying intensity. It is good for tool handles, hammers, axes, mattocks, spades, rakes, poles and so on. Ash logs, whether dead or green, are among the best of all for burning.

commences. Before severe frost the plants are taken into a greenhouse with a temperature of 45-50 degrees. They are ventilated freely to induce sturdy growth. Water is more liberally applied when they are growing vigorously and, when the flower spikes appear, liquid fertilizer is applied to the soil once a week.

When the Flowers Are Over. After flowering, feeding is continued to build up the bulbs, and so assist in the production of flowers for the following year. When the foliage beings to turn yellow, the water supply is gradually diminished until the leaves have turned brown; the pots are then laid on their sides in a sunny frame until the following August, when the bulbs are shaken out of the pots and repotted in fresh compost.

Propagation is by offsets and seeds. At potting time, when the bulbs are shaken out of the soil, they are graded according to size. The largest are pott?cl for flowering during the winter and the smaller 01cs are planted, 1 in. apart, in a deep box and grown in a frostproof greenhouse.

Seed Sowing. Seeds are sown in spring or early summer in pots of finely sifted soil, the seeds being placed 1 in. apart. They are lightly covered and a pane of glass is laid over the pot, which is set in a warm greenhouse until germination takes place. They are carefully watered and grown in a cool, well-lighted greenhouse or frame during the summer, and throughout the winter are given the same treatment as advised for the small offsets.

The Chief Kinds. The principal species are F. Armstrongii, pink, and F. refracta, yellow. Named varieties of the latter are alba, white; Leichtlinii, pale yellow with orange blotch; and xanthospila, wide-throated. These, crossed with F. Armstrongii, have given rise to many richly colored named hybrids, and magnificent large-flowered mixed seed strains.


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