Ash tree identification Kentucky

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Tree Identification – Ash Trees

It is the time of year to begin taking steps to eradicate the Emerald Ash Borer.

First, tree identification is key.  Do you even own an Ash tree? Visit this link to determine if you have an Ash tree or read below!

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An ash tree is effortlessly identified by:

There’s an opposite branching pattern (two branches come off the primary stem, one on each side and opposite one another.

It has complex leaves with 5-11 leaflets (based on the specific species of ash). Leaflets are somewhat toothed and might be stalked.

In winter: first look for the opposite branching pattern and strong twigs of ash. Little branches develop off bigger branches opposite one another. Also, buds and leaf scars are opposite one another on new twigs.

Next, Ash trees have numerous little dots on their leaves, forming a semi-circle or crescent pattern.

White and green ashes have thick, diamond-patterned bark, while black ash bark is thin, gray, and scaly.

Ash species attacked by emerald ash borer consist of green, white, black and blue Ash trees. Green and white ash would be the most commonly found ash species in Kentucky with blue ash becoming rare. Note:

While other hardwood trees like the Mountain Ash and Prickly Ash, have the same name, they’re not true Ash Trees. Consequently they’re not vulnerable to attack by emerald ash borer.

Ash trees are abundant in Kentucky, with estimates as high as 500 million trees in forests and more than 5 million in urban locations. Ash is an element of three common forest types in Kentucky including Elm, Ash, Cottonwood, Northern Hardwood and Oak / Hickory.

Ash wood is used for making flooring, Louisville Slugger baseball bats, tool handles, cabinets and far more than most people realize.

Once you have identified your ash tree proper care is needed to ensure overall health of the tree.

Ash Tree Pruning

When pruning an ash tree, remember two things: pruning is permanent and cannot be undone AND pruning impacts a tree for its entire life.

Improper ash tree pruning

There are many good reasons to prune trees but evaluate your tree pruning with a long-term perspective.  Many times, a tree does not need to be pruned at all.  If your pruning is done with a short-term perspective, just to make it look presentable today, the tree may suffer irreparable harm.  Ash trees especially need to be pruned with great care.  If ash trees are pruned too early or pruned incorrectly, they become more vulnerable to the emerald ash borer.

Ash trees will require pruning to remove dead, damaged or diseased branches, to remove branches for safety reasons, or possibly to control their size within your landscape.  There really are no other reasons to prune your ash trees. You should also never trim more than 15% of the healthy upper branches, this could  actually kill the tree.

Proper pruning procedures

Step 1

Cut away damaged or diseased branches or limbs as quickly as possible. Follow the directions on cutting branches on our blog.  Keep the tree cut clean. Clean cuts ensure the health of the tree will not be compromised. Unclean or jagged edges on branches will usually create an opportunity for a tree disease or any species of tree insects. This can be done at any time of the  year–the tree does not have to be in its dormant stage. Again, we are only talking about dead branches or diseased branches on your ash tree.

Step 2

Trimming to remove hazardous branches. Find the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (this is on the topside of the  branch where it connects to the trunk). Make your tree cut right in front of both the branch bark ridge and the branch collar. Please read the next line twice! Do not cut into the branch collar or branch bark  ridge. This will begin a slow deterioration of the tree. This tree cut needs to be done when the ash tree is dormant.  The tree is dormant in early spring or late fall.

Step 3

Visually inspect the crown (which consists of the leaves and branches at the top) of your tree. Remove deadwood and any crossover branches. At Bob Ray, we call this the thinning of the crown. Thinning of the crown is usually done on a mature tree by a professional tree service. Arborists can determine what branches need to be cut without damaging the appearance or more importantly the health of the ash tree. Tree service companies like Bob Ray are also experienced at working at the needed height to prune the correct branches the correct way.   This type of tree cut also needs to be done in early spring or late fall.

Step 4

Cut away any suckers at the bottom of the tree. Suckers are the shoots that grow at the base of the tree or any growth that you see from the roots.  These suckers take away valuable  nutrients and water from the tree. You can do this at any time although shoots generally appear during the growing season.

Please visit our FAQ section or send us an email with any questions! BRC