En Espa—ol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 23, 2011

From: Bolingbrook, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Trees
Title: Ash tree shedding seeds early in IL
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I've lived in my house 13 years now and have a large and old ash tree in my backyard near my patio. The seed pods are ten-fold this year and are dropping constantly. I've never experienced this copious amount of seed pods and needing to sweep the patio daily and getting mounds of them in every sweep. Why are there so many falling early? I know that in fall they fall off and there were very many last fall too. My ash tree is located in a very damp area as the terrain in low there and gets lots of water.

ANSWER:

You don't mention what type of ash you are dealing with, but it is likely Fraxinus americana (White ash) as it is the most common native ash tree.

It is notorious for shedding its seeds and for having disease and pest problems.  Taylor's Guide to Trees says,  "Seeds are numerous, sprout readily and can be troublesome in landscapes". This Green Guru concurs; I have several on my Ontario property and I spend a lot of time sweeping and raking up the seeds and pulling the seedlings.

Michael Dirr says in his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses

"One would wonder if the ashes have any value after reading the impressive list of insects and diseases, vigorous growing trees do not develop that many problems but homeowners should always be on the lookout and when something seems awry should call a tree specialist or seek help through their County extension office ..."

Generally speaking, when a tree produces a more copious amount of seed than normal it is due to stress (as a result of insect pressure, disease or cultural conditions).  The tree is making a last ditch attempt to reproduce in case it dies.

So we recommend you follow Michael Dirr's advice and consult an arborist or your County Extension Service to determine what the problem and appropriate action are.

 

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Native turf grass for Denison TX
January 27, 2014 - I have researched many grasses for sandy soil in Denison,Tx that are easy mantainance. Habiturf has been recommended but is mostly Buffalo grass and is not recommended for sandy soil. What other opt...
view the full question and answer

Germinating Milkweed Seeds
January 23, 2015 - When is the best time to plant milkweed seeds outside? I was told when the overnight temperature hits 70 F. (our garden is in Lakeway, Texas). So around late May? Is this when the seeds germinate i...
view the full question and answer

Weak flowering on rosa minutifolia from San Diego CA
July 27, 2013 - Hi, I have a Rosa minutifolia and has been doing great, but when it gives flowers the petals fall too fast, only last a day or two and also the fruit never forms completely and finishes drying so I ca...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Chandler's craglily from San Marcos TX
December 16, 2012 - Can you please advise me on collecting and propagating seed from Chandlerís craglily -Echeandia chandleri. I have 2 plants that came from the wildflower center. They never seem to multiply, but they d...
view the full question and answer

Agarita and Mexican Buckeye not flowering or fruiting.
December 11, 2012 - The Greenbelt behind our home has a ton of agarita and Mexican buckeye, but they never bloom or berry. The pigeon berry is very happily doing both all year. Any suggestions for helping the agerita a...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center