AskIFAS Powered by EDIS

Fraxinus velutina: Velvet Ash1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2


This fast-growing, deciduous, native North American tree reaches a height of 30 to 50 feet, depending upon cultural conditions. It is capable of growing taller in its native habitat. The three to six-inch-long leaves are divided into multiple leaflets and turn a brilliant yellow in fall before dropping. The inconspicuous, green, springtime flowers are followed by the production of showy, persistent fruits. The tree has been widely grown in California and in parts of the west including Texas.

Figure 1. Middle-aged Fraxinus velutina: Velvet Ash
Figure 1.  Middle-aged Fraxinus velutina: Velvet Ash
Credit: Ed Gilman

General Information

Scientific name: Fraxinus velutina
Pronunciation: FRACK-sih-nus vell-LOO-tih-nuh
Common name(s): Velvet Ash, Modesto Ash, Arizona Ash
Family: Oleaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 7A through 8B (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: reclamation; urban tolerant; shade; street without sidewalk; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; sidewalk cutout (tree pit); highway median
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 30 to 50 feet
Spread: 45 to 60 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: round
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: odd-pinnately compound
Leaf margin: serrate
Leaf shape: lanceolate, elliptic (oval)
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches, 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow
Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: green
Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: elongated
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: green, tan
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: gray
Current year twig thickness: medium, thick
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; occasionally wet; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: unknown


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: tolerant
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: susceptible

Pest resistance: sensitive to pests/diseases

Use and Management

The tree has been traditionally difficult to maintain due to the development of many upright trunks originating from the same position on the main trunk. This condition has lead to the creation of weak trees which often break apart at the base of the multiple trunks. Careful pruning and branch selection is required during the first 15 years after planting to ensure good, strong trunk and branch development. It is important to purchase good quality planting stock which has a central leader and no upright multiple trunks. This will make the tree much easier to maintain in the landscape. Some horticulturists do not recommend planting this tree due to the high pruning requirement and susceptibility to breakage.

Velvet Ash should be grown in full sun on any soil and will tolerate both alkaline and rocky soils. It is tolerant of wet soil and has been extensively used along streets in areas with poor drainage. Roots often grow close to the soil surface causing a nuisance by breaking sidewalks and curbs.

The cultivar `Arizona' is widely planted but reportedly has the same problems as the species.

Propagation is easily done by seed.


It is very susceptible to borers. Trees often have a short-life.


Texas Ash is susceptible to verticillium wilt.


1. This document is ENH430, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH430

Release Date:July 31, 2014

Related Collections

Part of Southern Trees Fact Sheets

Related Topics

    Organism ID


    • Michael Andreu