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Ash Seed Conservation

Save Our Ashes

There's an invasive bug spreading like a wildfire across North America, leaving millions of dead ash trees in its wake throughout the Northeast and Midwest.

The emerald ash borer is set to change our forests and landscapes forever. In some of the places where the bug has taken hold, 99 percent of ash trees have died.

"It is safe to say that the vast majority of ashes [in North America] will surely die," Dr. Andrew Liebhold, a U.S. Forest Service entomologist. 

It is now in Arkansas, knocking on Texas’ door. Those who monitor plant health in Texas expect the emerald ash borer to make it to the state this year. 

CONSERVING TEXAS ASHES

Wildflower Center conservationists are leading efforts to collect seeds from native Texas ash trees to safeguard the species from devastation. The seeds will be an invaluable resource for any restoration of Texas ash species if and when the ash borer sweeps through the state.

Donate Today

With the help of almost 200 citizen scientist volunteers, we have saved 125,000 seeds from ash trees in counties within the Edwards Plateau and Cross Timbers eco-regions of Texas. We plan to double that and need to collect seeds from additional Texas counties.

Please donate today to help our efforts to conserve ash trees as the Emerald ash borer bears down on Texas. Time is of the essence. 

See below for other ways you can help us save our Texas ashes.

ABOUT TEXAS ASH TREES

Texas has eight native ash species. The Texas ash species are all vulnerable to the emerald ash borer. Ash trees are important components of Texas ecosystems. At least 43 native insect species rely on ash trees for food or breeding. Those insects are then food for birds. When forests are wiped out, ecosystems are forever changed. Ash also protects riparian habitats from soil erosion and increased water temperature through shading, and the trees serve as important components of urban habitats, providing shade, habitat, water filtration, and more. 

Learn more about the eight species of Texas ash:

  1. Fraxinus albicans (Texas ash)
  2. Fraxinus americana (White ash)
  3. Fraxinus berlandieriana (Mexican ash)
  4. Fraxinus caroliniana (Carolina ash)
  5. Fraxinus cuspidata (Fragrant ash)
  6. Fraxinus greggii (Gregg's ash)
  7. Fraxinus pennsylvanica (Green ash)
  8. Fraxinus velutina (Velvet ash)

You may have one or more of the native ash species in your area. Check this county distribution map to determine which ash species you might find in your area. 

ABOUT THE EMERALD ASH BORER

Emerald Ash Borer
Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis)

The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is an invasive species from Asia that was introduced to the United States in the 1990s in wood packing material. The larvae feed on the phloem and outer sapwood of ash trees, producing galleries that eventually girdle and kill the tree. Since introduction, millions of ash trees have been killed by this invasive pest.

To learn more about the emerald ash borer, visit the invasive species database at texasinvasives.org or the National EAB Information Website at www.emeraldashborer.info

Click here for a print-friendly version of this page.

Our Conservation Strategy: Ash Seed Collection

Ripe Samaras
Ripe ash samaras.
Seed collection is the primary focus of our conservation efforts at the present because seeds are a good, fast, and relatively inexpensive way to collect and preserve ash species. Also, seeds will not transmit EAB to non-infested areas and, when properly handled, ash seeds survive well under medium and long-term storage conditions. Once collected and stored, seeds can be easily distributed to scientists and growers to produce seedlings for EAB research, breeding, scientific study and future ecological restoration work (adapted from Ash Genetic Conservation Plan Prepared by R.P. Karrfalt, Director USDA Forest Service, National Seed Laboratory March, 2010).

Click here to learn more about our Ash Seed Collecting program.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Ash seed collecting
Ash seed collecting.
There are several things you can do to help save Texas ash trees.

1. Don't Move Firewood. Don't risk starting a new infestation of emerald ash borer by moving firewood. Don't take firewood with you on your camping trip, RV adventure, or up to your hunting camp. Don't bring firewood back from your second home to your place in the suburbs. Instead, buy it where you'll burn it. Learn more...

2. Report Emerald Ash Borer. Report any suspected sightings of emerald ash borer or symptomatic ash trees. Texasinvasive.org maintains an online system for reporting significant pest like EAB. If you suspect EAB activity, take a picture of the symptomatic plant or pest, record its GPS location and submit the observation here.

3. Help Map Ash Trees in Texas. Looking ahead to a statewide ash seed collecting effort, we need to locate and map native ash trees in Texas. If you have ash trees in your area, you can help by sending GPS coordinates, what species you think it is and photos (one closeup of the leaf and one of the entire tree) to ashseed@wildflower.org.

4. Collect Ash Seeds. In response to the potential for extensive tree mortality by the emerald ash borer (EAB), ash seeds are being collected for long term storage to preserve genetic resources of the ash species. The overall goal of the collection is to to obtain seed from 50 trees of each species in each ecoregion in which it occurs. If you would like more information about participating in this aspect of the Ash Conservation project, please contact ashseed@wildflower.org.

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