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Intro to Trees of Indiana: White Ash

The classic and trusted book "Fifty Common Trees of Indiana" by T.E. Shaw was published in 1956 as a user-friendly guide to local species. Nearly 70 years later, the publication has been updated through a joint effort by the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Indiana 4-H, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and reintroduced as "An Introduction to Trees of Indiana."

A printed copy of the full publication is available for purchase for $7 in the Purdue Extension Education Store. The field guide helps identify common Indiana woodlot trees.

Each week, the Intro to Trees of Indiana web series will offer a sneak peek at one species from the book, paired with an ID That Tree video from Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee to help visualize each species as it stands in the woods. Threats to species health as well as also insight into the wood provided by the species, will be provided through additional resources as well as the Hardwoods of the Central Midwest exhibit of the Purdue Arboretum, if available.

First up, we introduce the white ash or fraxinus americana.

The white ash, which is typically found on higher and drier sites than its cohorts in the ash family, has been threatened due to the invasive beetle called the emerald ash borer. This species features opposite leaf arrangement, compound leaves with seven to nine leaflets, and squatty terminal buds as well as a bud that dips down into the leaf scar, which resembles a smiley face. The bark is gray, has a corky feel, and features an interlacing network of ridges forming a diamond shape.

Among the Hardwoods of the Central Midwest, white ash is the best known and preferred species amongLine drawing of a white ash leaf the five ash species located throughout the eastern United States. The species is found from the Great Plains east and from southern Canada south, with the exception of the lower Mississippi River Delta and coastal plains areas.

White ash is very hard and firm and with a 12% moisture content, it is comparable to white and red oak as one of the strongest woods. The wood grain appears much like oak, but does not have the large rays seen on the quartered surface of oak.

Ash is used on exposed surfaces in furniture and cabinets and also for millwork and flooring. Due to its high strength in bending and high shock resistance, it is also used in athletic equipment such as baseball bats and tennis rackets.

The history, color and texture and wood properties of white ash are available in more detail on the Hardwoods of the Central Midwest page for the species.

Other Resources:
Ash - Hardwood Lumber and Veneer Series
Fifty Trees of the Midwest app for the iPhone
Native Trees of the Midwest
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest
ID That Tree YouTube playlist
Woodland Management Moment YouTube playlist
Investing in Indiana Woodlands
Forest Improvement Handbook
Emerald Ash Borer puts trees on path to functional extinction - Purdue Agriculture News
Emerald Ash Borer - Purdue Entomology
Emerald Ash Borer University - Purdue Entomology
Emerald Ash Borer Management - Purdue Entomology
New tips for managing emerald ash borer - Purdue Landscape Report
Avoid deadly risk of dying ash trees with timely tree removal - Purdue Landscape Report

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