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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - June 22, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Why is my Ash drooping?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Last spring, I bought a house in Austin, TX with a large Ash tree in the front yard. It looked fine last year, but has been looking funny since it leafed out this spring. It's as if the leaves are weighing all the branches down. The canopy has dropped noticeably and most of the branches seem to be pointing down. It's still thick and green, not losing any leaves, but it looks like it's melting. To be honest, I'm not sure if it's a Texas Ash, or the "dreaded" Arizona Ash, which I'm told has a limited life span in this area. What might be wrong with my tree, and what can I do about it? I really, really don't want to lose this tree. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Since you are in Austin and you said it is a big tree, Mr. Smarty Plants is thinking you have an Arizona Ash  Fraxinus velutina (velvet ash). The Texas Ash Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash) is a smaller tree, and it is very colorful  in the Fall. Compare the images  of the plants: F. velutina ;    F. texensis. This will help you determine which Ash you have.

The Arizona Ash produces copious quanities of fruits/seeds beginning in early spring into the summer, and the crop seems heavy this spring. If your tree  is covered with seeds, this could be the cause of the drooping limbs. The seeds eventually fall, and the drooping should be reduced. Now Arizona Ash is a dioecious species; so if your tree is a male, there won't be any seeds and this doesn't answer your question.

Another course of action is to have an arborist check on the overall health of your tree. The Texas Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture can help you contact a certified arborist in Austin.

 

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