Belonging to the family of olives and lilacs, Fraxinus consists of 45 to 65 species of trees, which are predominantly medium-sized to large-sized deciduous trees. The common English name for this genus is ash, but its generic name originates from Latin, which is an adjective of a Proto-Indo-European word meaning birch. They are found in abundance throughout France, China, northern areas of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.
The North American species of Fraxinus (ash) serve as a major food source for ace bugs and frogs.
Ash trees are easy to identify by their well-defined, tough black buds, which are visible in winter. In addition to this, a large circular crown starts developing on the trunk in spring. In natural environments, they can grow up to 46 meters tall with a trunk of 2 meters in diameter. Clapton Court boasts the largest Fraxinus (ash) tree in the world. Leaves are pinnate and opposite with saw-toothed margins growing up to 4 to 10 centimeters, and they are mostly compound in nature.
Flowers belonging to female individuals are longer in comparison to their male counterparts, which are dark purple. A single tree of Fraxinus (ash) bears both male and female flowers, but there are exceptions. Wind acts as a fantastic medium of pollination.
Their seeds, which are also known as “helicopter seeds”, are a fruit named “Samara” and it is approximately 2.5 to 4.5 centimeters long. The quality of seeds is better in late summer and autumn.
Like any other tree, bonsai usually dies without proper care. People often give up, regretting that they had a bonsai but it didn’t survive. Here is a guide to make things easier for them.
How long does it take to grow Fraxinus Bonsai?
It takes three years for a Fraxinus (ash) tree to grow, depending on care and nourishment. Keeping seeds in a moist and cool place is advisable. Because of the size of their huge leaves and sturdy branches, they are not preferred by bonsai enthusiasts. That is why we are going to provide a to-do list of things to grow your Fraxinus (ash) bonsai.
Seeding and sowing
12 hours of constant soaking in water followed by warm and cold stratification. Sowing the seeds deeply continued by tamping the soil and keeping them in a damp place in the fall. This will allow the seeds to germinate in the spring.
They are extremely tolerant of the glowing sun and shade. Windy spots can be a good location for Fraxinus (ash) trees, but that will require frequent watering of 2 to 3 times during warm conditions. Caution: Late frosts can hinder spring growth.
Calcareous soils are their favorites, but they can be grown on any soil except those which are poorly maintained and acidic in nature.
Low nitrogen bonsai feed is the best when a Franxicus (ash) tree starts growing initially. Overfeeding may lead to sluggish growth.
How to Plant and Grow Fraxinus (ash) Bonsai?
We have covered the initial process of positioning and feeding a Fraxinus (ash) bonsai, but a little knowledge of some Fraxinus species is a must before moving further ahead.
Fraxinus griffithii/ the Himalayan ash or evergreen ash – Found in abundance across China and South-east Asia. This tree has compound leaves consisting of 5 to 11 leaflets.
Fraxinus anomala/ single-leaf ash -It grows up to a maximum of five to six meters. Leafs can be either compound or simple.
Fraxinus excelsior/ European ash – Deciduous tree with maximum approachable limit of 30 meters, attracts wildlife. Moist, acidic and neutral soils are the most preferable habitats of this tree.
Fraxinus albicans/ Texas ash – This tree has 13 to 20-centimeter-long compound leaves. Male and female flowers grow separately, and that is why it is dioecious in nature.
Fraxinus profunda/ pumpkin ash – Wild in nature. Grows up to a height of 27.5 meters. The flowers of this tree usually bloom in spring.
Fraxinus uhdei/ tropical ash or Shamel ash – An invasive species, used to manufacture timber and medicines.
Fraxinus velutina/ Velvet Ash or Arizona Ash or Modesto Ash – A shady deciduous tree which does not grow beyond forty feet. Differently sized leaflets with velvet-like hairs underneath give it the name.
Fraxinus bungeana/ Bunge ash – A little different from other ashes. The ideal time for sowing seeds is in autumn, bears creamy white flowers which appear in late spring.
Fraxinus dipetala/ California Ash or Two-petal Ash -found at elevations ranging from 100 to 1300 meters. It has aromatic flowers which have 2.5 to 4 millimeters long petals.
Fraxinus latifolia/ Oregon ash – Found throughout British Columbia, western Washington western Oregon. 15 to 30 centimeters long compound leaves.
By now you must have acquired some information on Franxicus (ash) species, it is time to move on with the actual process of growing and planting them. Fruits of an ash tree mature between September and October and that is the best time to pluck them from the branches. You have to grow your plant keeping all these things in mind.
Propagation – Sowing and mulching seeds without stratification in autumn. Extraction involves separation of seeds manually. Seeds of Fraxinus velutina can be sown after chilling using refrigeration for a period of two to three months.
Pruning – Steady growth and proper structure is ensured by trimming the shoots repeatedly during the initial growing season. Pruning during summer and winter helps the tree to develop branches faster.
Anomala species of bonsai requires systematic pruning for better air circulation and removal of dead branches. End of winter to the beginning of spring is best for pruning. No pruning is required for the excelsior species.
Planting – A Fraxinus (ash) tree either develops naturally or it can be grown by enriching the soil. Enough room has to be made for the root ball by cleaning weeds. It should be kept at a distance of 20 feet (ca. 6 m) from the walls of your house as it tends to grow tall.
Repotting – Buds start appearing in spring. Two years is the ideal time to report plants which are immature. For mature trees this time frame can be reduced to a year or less than a year. Simultaneously cut roots. Saplings which are shorter than two feet can be kept in eight to ten inch (approx 20 to 25 centimeter) sized pots. Keeping a Fraxinus(ash) tree in a same pot for a long time can result in stunted growth.
How to Care for Your Fraxinus (ash) Bonsai?
During the initial stages of growing, small amount of fertilizer can do magic if the condition of soil is poor. Fraxinus(ash) tree grows rapidly during winter followed by bloom. Blooming season continues from March to May. Removing undesirable buds during the onset of spring is extremely beneficial. Tweaking the tip of the branch ensures steady growth.
Fraxinus (ash) seeds have an aversion for acidic soils, but they can benefit from a proper lining of garden lime. It’s recommended to keep immature seedlings of Fraxinus (ash) in moist conditions. Watering should be reduced by the end of summer. Transplanting also helps in developing a healthy and fibrous root system.
Common pests and diseases
Pests and diseases deal significant damage to a Fraxinus (ash) tree. The list below mentions some of them.
Ash Yellows – Mostly affects white and green ash trees. Caused by fungi, it’s first detection can be traced back to the 1980s. A disease called lilac witches obstructs the growth and vitality of a tree.
Psyllids – Jumping tree lice as they are commonly called, resemble tiny grasshoppers. They feed on the plant juices. Invasive in nature, and they have the capability of injecting toxins.
Emerald Ash Borer – Goes by the acronym EAB. Has destroyed lots of ash trees across 30 states in the US. It was first identified in the United States way back in 2002. Inner bark of ash trees are the most affected parts, as it interferes with water and nutrient transportation.
Anthracnose – A fungal disease which wilts all the tissues by causing lesions. Usual symptoms include dark patches on the leaves of a Fraxinus (ash) tree. Twigs and branches can also be affected by the formation of cankers.
Verticullium Wilt – Has the potential of bringing down an entire tree in a year depending on the severity of infection. Sudden wilting of leaves either locally or throughout the tree.
Other notable pests and diseases – Banded ash clear wing, ash Anthracnose, powdery mildew, cankers, ash Flower Gall, leaf curl aphids, oyster shell scales.
Fraxinus (ash) tree faces no significant threats from micro-organism and insects in Europe. It is a very sturdy and tough tree, however regular maintenance is needed for ensuring healthy growth. To enhance overall vitality and longevity pruning is a must. Proper cleaning of dead leaves, broken and diseased branches remove most of the fungi responsible for decay and infection. Collecting leaves can also be productive, due to the secretion of a viscous substance which is beneficial for treating arthritis, constipation, gout and other issues connected to the bladder. Use of fertilizer and water should be checked at all times.