Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Fraxinus velutina

Arizona ash, Velvet ash, Desert ash, Leatherleaf ash, Smooth ash, Modesto ash, Toumey ash, Standley ash

Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Fraxinus velutina (Arizona ash)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy
This ash is a small to medium-sized, deciduous shade tree, usually no taller than 40 ft. in cultivation. Tree with open, rounded crown of spreading branches and leaflets quite variable in shape and hairiness. Spreading branches form a rounded crown. Bark is deeply furrowing into ridges. Pinnately compound foliage turns yellow in fall.

This variable species is the common ash in the Southwest, where it is planted as a shade and street tree. It is hardy in alkaline soils and fast-growing. In the desert, ash trees indicate a permanent underground water supply. The leaflets of different shapes are often covered with velvety hairs beneath, as the scientific and common names imply, but also may be hairless. Modesto Ash is a rapidly growing, cultivated variety, widely planted as a street tree in dry areas (including alkaline soils) in California and the Southwest.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf: Green
Size Class: 36-72 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AZ , CA , NV , NM , TX , UT
Native Distribution: Southern California, s.w. UT & s. NV, east to New Mexico and w. TX, south to Jalisco in central Mexico
Native Habitat: Desert & chaparral streambanks & canyons

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: F. velutina is an extremely variable species. F. velutina var. coriacea grows in CA; F. velutina var. glabra grows in TX. All varieties are fast-growing and relatively short-lived.

Last Update: 2015-11-12