Ash tree is amongst the most popular trees in the United States of America, it can be seen standing tall in forests, backyards, sidewalks, and front lawns throughout the country. Its majestic appearance adds a distinguished beauty to the landscape in the United States. There are over a billion ash trees across the country and they grow in abundance in the midwest, and northeastern regions of the country.
Ash tree comes in many different shapes and sizes, as there are many different varieties of the ash tree in various parts of the world. There are more than 50 species of the ash tree, which are found in various parts of Europe, Asia, and America, and most of these varieties mature to form large and wide shade trees.
The ash tree forms a significant portion of the total number of trees in the country, and this has been quite a disadvantage since the emerald ash borer has come into the picture. This has lead to people talking more about biodiversity, which aims to have different varieties and variability of life forms in an area. The case of ash trees has clearly shown that being dependent on one or only a few varieties of trees is not a good idea for society.
Ash Tree – Basic Characteristics
The ash tree belongs to the Genus “Fraxinus” and the family “Oleaceae”. Ash trees are large deciduous shade trees that have smooth bark when they’re young, and it tends to roughen up as the tree matures.
The ash tree is generally a big size tree, although the size of this tree may vary with the type of the species. It generally grows in the height range of 20 to 40 meters, and this tree also grows pretty wide and it generally grows a canopy of 10 to 15 meters.
The leaves of the ash tree have a compound leaf system and they generally have five to thirteen leaflets in a leaf. These leaves are green in color which changes to an orange or red color as they tend to fall in the autumn. There are odd numbers of leaflets in each leaf because the leaflets grow straight across from one another with a terminal leaflet at the end.
The ash trees have a strong, wide, and extensive root system, which provides the base and support to these big trees. The bark of the young tree is grayish in color and as the tree matures the bark grows distinctive diamond-shaped ridges.
The shape of the fruits of the tree is also distinctive, the fruits are small and flat and they hold miniature seeds, the size, and shape of the seeds enable them to flow farther away with the wind from the parent tree, as compared to regular shaped seeds.
Uses Of Ash Tree
Ash tree is a very powerful tree, it is tall and also has a very big canopy, and it is planted in landscapes as a beautiful shade tree. Its various parts are useful; the most commonly used parts are the seeds, shoots, leaves, and wood of the tree. The tree is known to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.
The wood of this tree is a light-colored hardwood, it is smooth and straight-grained, and as such, it looks really good. It is fairly light in weight and has a good amount of resistance to shock. This is the reason it is used for making good quality baseball bats and tool handles.
The leaves of this tree can be used as a laxative and diuretic and it also helps in reducing cellulite. It is believed that it is quite beneficial to ingest the leaves of ash trees along with a diet to remove the waste and toxins through urine.
The wood of this tree can be easily stained and polished, it is quite popular for its aesthetic beauty and it is commonly used for flooring and making furniture.
Ash tree also possesses anti-rheumatism properties, which means that it is very helpful in giving relief in the pain from arthritis and rheumatism.
The Ash tree also has uses in the cosmetic industry because of the anti-aging and skin rejuvenating properties that this tree possesses.
Ash tree is a big beautiful tree that provides a lot of foliage and it also gives us a lot of shade and its beauty adds a lot to the ambiance of the place.
Many people cultivate ash trees for their ornamental purposes and for the woods that they produce, which have applications in numerous industries.
Ash Tree Identification
It is not very difficult to identify an ash tree, because it has few distinctive features that make it easy to distinguish ash tree from other tree species. The most distinctive feature that the ash tree has is the opposite branching system, as these branches develop they come out opposite to each other, whereas in other species it is seen that they have alternate branching systems, in which the branches grow alternately along the stem.
The other famous tree which has this type of branching system is the maple tree. The other feature which makes ash tree distinguishable is the compound leaf; this tree generally has 5 to 13 leaflets in each of its leaves. The maple tree does not have this type of leaves; as such it is quite easy to differentiate an ash tree from a maple tree.
The other distinguishable feature of the ash tree is the particular pattern in the bark. The bark of the young ash tree is quite smooth but as the tree matures it starts developing diamond-shaped ridges.
Ash Tree Borer – Emerald Ash Borer
The emerald ash borer is a green flying beetle which feasts upon the beautiful ash trees, it has been creating problems for the ash trees for many years, and it is really important to find a way to combat the problem that it causes.
The emerald ash borer is an invasive pest which is believed to have originated from China, it has a great liking for the ash trees and in only a few years it has killed millions of ash trees across the country.
The ash trees across the country face a severe threat because of this pest; they face serious risk of imminent extinction, all because of this dangerous pest that is smaller than the size of a grain.
In order to save the ash trees, it is very important to look for the early warning signs of an infestation of the emerald ash borer. When a tree is under stress it generally starts shooting out sprouts from the base of the tree or along the trunk of the tree.
Another good sign of an infestation is the woodpeckers; if you observe the woodpeckers attacking your trees then it is most probably because of the presence of bugs or insects on the tree. The woodpeckers love to feed on the bugs and insects.
The emerald ash borers also make holes on the bark and inside the bark, they make canal type structures, which they make while crawling along and feeding on the vascular system of the tree. So if you see these signs, they clearly indicate the infestation of the emerald ash borer on the tree.
Preserving tree vs killing them
The rate at which the emerald ash borer has killed the ash trees is very rapid, and it has raised many concerns regarding the future of the ash trees. As such one very important question that arises in the mind of many people is that why is it so important to protect an ash tree instead of just cutting it down and replacing it with a tree with no such issues?
The answer to this question is that an ash tree is not a small tree, it is a huge tree, and replacing a tree of this size will take decades. The ash tree has big canopies and it also has a lot of other benefits. So just planting a new tree and expecting it to take the place of the ash tree is not quite practical.
Treatment of Ash Trees
It is an established fact that we need the ash trees to survive and for maintaining the ecological balance. But with the results of the infestations of the emerald ash borer, it has become quite evident that if timely measures are not taken these trees are going to die.
So at present, there are only two options left with us, we can either treat the ash trees or cut them down before the trees become completely useless. In order to save the trees, it becomes necessary to treat them, there are a few treatment options available which protect the tree against the attack.
The tree can be treated with an insecticide that is put into the soil around the tree, this insecticide is absorbed by the roots and this treatment allows the tree to be protected for about one year’s time.
The other treatment choice is to treat the bark, for this the insecticide is spread over the bark and the bark absorbs it and this also allows the tree a one year relief from the attack of the emerald ash borer.
There are other methods available too, which can be applied to the tree depending on the size of the tree, season of the year, and the impact that the emerald ash borer already has on the particular tree.