Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Problems with water oaks from Laurel MS
October 05, 2013 - The leaves on my mature water oak trees have been falling since the leaves matured. My area has had an abundance of rain this year, 11 inches above normal. All the trees in my area are doing the same....
view the full question and answer

Possible allelopathic properties of Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)
October 02, 2015 - I want to plant a coral honeysuckle at the base of a mesquite tree. Anything in the mesquite that would inhibit the honeysuckle from growing?
view the full question and answer

Cedar trees dying in CO
July 18, 2011 - We have mature cedar trees at the home we bought in SW Colorado. The large ones have begun to die. Can too much water kill a cedar tree and is there anything I can do to keep them alive?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree for privacy screen in Granbury Texas
December 21, 2014 - We need to put an evergreen privacy screen between our barn and our neighbor's new 132' long, unattractive building, which runs along & is just 40' away from our fence line & where they have decid...
view the full question and answer

Companion plants for Douglas fir in Federal Way, WA
May 11, 2009 - What are good companion plants for large Douglas Fir trees? we have 5 large trees in our cul-de-sac "island" and would like to plant something colorful around the trees. It's very dry, shady, and c...
view the full question and answer

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