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Fraxinus velutina (Arizona ash)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Fraxinus velutina

Fraxinus velutina Torr.

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

Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Synonym(s): Fraxinus pennsylvanica ssp. velutina, Fraxinus velutina var. coriacea, Fraxinus velutina var. glabra, Fraxinus velutina var. toumeyi

USDA Symbol: FRVE2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Samara
Size Notes: Up to about 50 feet tall. Usually shorter in cultivation.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AZ , CA , NM , NV , 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.


Description: Seeds may be sown outdoors after collection or stored and stratified then sown in spring.
Seed Treatment: Stratify in moist sand or perlite for 30-60 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0334 Collected May 22, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium


Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Fraxinus velutina in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Fraxinus velutina in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Fraxinus velutina


Record Modified: 2023-04-19
Research By: TWC Staff

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