Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina)

Arizona Ash

  • Native Tree
  • Great, Rounded Shade Tree
  • Incredible Fall Color
  • Textured Bark Adds Interest
  • Grows at up to 7,000 Feet Elevation
  • Can Really Handle the Heat
  • Grows in Alkaline Soils
  • Tolerates Coastal Salt

If you need a sophisticated shade tree in the desert, you need Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina). You might know it as Desert Ash or Fresno Ash. It performs beautifully in the Southwest, Central and Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas.

Arizona Ash trees grow quickly into a pretty, upright tree with a wide, open, rounded canopy of deep green leaves. You’ll appreciate it’s blessedly cool shade every day!

Go ahead, spend a lazy afternoon in your swinging hammock chair. Keep the pitcher of iced tea, or something harder in the cooler stand. This tree literally has you covered.

The nicknames Leatherleaf, Velvet or Smooth Ash tell you about the fuzzy undersides of the leaves. TIny leaflets make up the pinnately compound foliage, and fall clean-up is a snap.

Native to the deserts of the United States and Mexico, Arizona Ash is perfectly suited to the high pH alkaline soils. It can withstand tough levels of electrical conductivity, where the salinity of the soil is high.

Arizona Ash is a highly adaptable deciduous shade tree that can be grown to an elevation of 7,000 ft. The dark, shiny, green compound leaves turn flaming yellow orange in the fall. It’s quite a show!

Look for it along stream banks and canyons. It often graces commercial properties as a street tree, so you know it can tolerate a lot.

Use Arizona Ash for a stately native shade tree. You’ll love how it grows to provide an attractive feature in your landscape. Depending upon the growing conditions, this can be a tree that grows super fast.

How to Use Arizona Ash in the Landscape

The canopy on this large tree spreads and casts a wide span of shade. Plant one as a specimen lawn tree on the south or west side of your home to save on energy bills in summer.

Create a nice separation from neighboring properties with a 15 feet on center spacing. Measure from the center of one to the center of the next. The canopies will grow together and touch.

Arizona Ash is formal enough to be used in regular, even rows. March it down the length of your side yard or street to establish the look of a grand boulevard. Keep it at least 20 feet from structures and sidewalks for best results. If you are interested in learning more about large tree root systems like this one, click here for our blog!

Or, use it in an informal grouping by varying the spacing between trees by 15 – 30 feet. Be sure to vary the placement from front to back by using a gentle zigzagging or curved line, as well.

Trees planted more than 20 feet apart will look like separate trees. Enjoy the process of planting, and let your creative side come out and play!

Underplant with native shrubs and perennials to bring birds and butterflies to your property. Enjoy the wonderful view from your deck, or dining room.

However you use it, you’ll be pleased with bright golden fall color and textured bark in the off-season. The bark gets more furrowed with age, and it will eventually become a magnificent feature.

Tips for Care

Plant in full sun for the best results. It requires at least six hours of direct sunlight a day.

Water your tree carefully to establish it during the first season. From then on, it is moderately drought resistant.

However, in extended drought, please give water to keep your tree stress free. Protect your investment with water.

Mulch will also help the root system stay nice and cool. Spread it to three inches thick and out three feet from the canopy. Mulch should not touch the trunk, so pull it away from the tree by several inches.

Fertilize with an organic, slow-release formula. Follow the directions and application rate on the package.

Arizona Ash won’t need to be pruned much, as it generally takes on an attractive shape all by itself. If needed, prune to correct form or remove branches in late winter.

Each year, you’ll be so glad you planted Arizona Ash. This is a very adaptable and tough shade tree.

Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina) Details

Common name Arizona Ash
Botanical name Fraxinus velutina
Hardiness zone 7-11
Growth rate Fast, Medium
Height 40 ft.
Width 30 - 40 ft.
Sunlight Full Sun
Moisture Medium
Soil condition Well Drained
Pollinator-friendly Yes
Leaf color Deciduous