Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Trees Questions

Moths around Sophora secundiflora from Driftwood TX
March 15, 2012 - Sophora secundiflora Our Mountain Laurel has a lot of large moths flying around it. Should we be concerned? Will they hurt the tree? thank you
view the full question and answer

Why is Rhus aromatica more deer resistant from Seattle
December 07, 2009 - I have a large area that I would like to cover with Rhus aromatica. My landscaper says that in his experience, Rhus typhina and glabra in this area are heavily browsed by deer. I noticed in your dat...
view the full question and answer

Texas Ash
January 03, 2007 - Where can I purchase a Texas Ash? One native tree nursery advertised Texas Ash but the trees turned out to be Fan-Tex, which I believe is an Arizona Ash cultivar.
view the full question and answer

Should hole in escarpment live oak be filled in Austin?
May 24, 2009 - Regarding one of my mature escarpment live oaks: should an old hole (about 8" across) in the trunk (caused by the improper cutting of a branch) be filled? A tree service technician advised me that he...
view the full question and answer

Large Leaved Trees in Sugarland, TX
June 27, 2011 - Can you give me a list of trees which bear thick and broad leaves?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.