What Is Arizona Ash?
Arizona ash (Asteraceae) is one of the most popular trees in the world. It grows naturally in many parts of North America including Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. The species name means “Ash Tree” because it looks like an old-fashioned ash tree with its tall branches and dark green leaves. It’s native range extends from northern Canada into southern Alaska. There are over 30 different species of A. ashii found throughout the United States. Some of them are used for wood products such as furniture, flooring, cabinetry and even construction materials. Other species are invasive weeds that have invaded their natural habitats. These include the Mexican Ash (A. maculatum), the Redwood (Populus tremuloides) and the White Pine (Pinus strobus).
The most common variety grown commercially is called red oak or western white pine (Picea abies). They’re also known as American elm or white pine. Their bark is soft and light brown in color, while their needles are usually lighter colored than those of other oaks.
The wood they produce is relatively strong and durable. However, the wood isn’t quite as dense as that of alder (Thuja occidentalis), which makes it less suitable for making furniture or building structures. Its major disadvantage is that it tends to split and check when exposed to changes in temperature or humidity. Red oak is easy to work with and takes paint and stain very well. It’s also very affordable, making it one of the most widely used construction materials in the world.
The Arizona ash is a significant tree in North America, especially for wildlife. The wood and leaves are an important food source for deer and many other animals. Its large seeds are eaten by birds and smaller mammals.
The thick bark provides shelter for many animals and the foliage is a good camouflage from predators. Many types of insects use it as breeding ground because its flowers provide nectar. It’s used as a location for spiders to build their webs because they’re protected from the wind and easy to reach.
What Do Arizona Ash Trees Look Like?
These trees have a thick brown-gray bark that’s longitudinally fissured and scaly. The bark peels off in large pieces. It has a red or purple color when it’s young but fades to gray as it ages. The leaves are dark green in color and look like small oaks when they’re mature. They have five points with rounded edges along the tips. The flowers appear before the leaves and are covered with a fluffy yellow fuzz. They produce round one-seeded fruits that are green, yellow or red in color. These seeds are an important food source for birds and small mammals. There is a root collar that extends a few inches underground where the tree’s new growth is produced each year.
Is It A Tree Or A Shrub?
The Arizona ash can reach a height of up to 90 feet (27 meters), which makes it great for providing shade. It can also grow about 2 feet (.6 meters) per year under the right conditions. Even though it can grow very tall, it only spreads out to about 20 feet (6 meters) and often has a straight, tall trunk. The smallest trees start out with several trunks that fuse together as they age. Like other ash trees, the Arizona ash may sprout from the roots and trunks if the above-ground structure is damaged, burned or cut down.
These trees are native to the Southwestern part of North America but can also be found in parts of Mexico and Texas. They grow best in rocky, volcanic or desert soil and are able to survive long periods of drought. They’re relatively rare and only found growing in isolated groves or as solitary trees.
The Arizona ash is tolerant of cold winters but does not grow well outside of its native region.
These trees have a slow growth rate and can take up to 75 years before they’re able to provide lumber. Sadly, there has not been any selective logging to improve the species so there isn’t enough data to say how fast they grow or how long they live. These days, logging is only done when the trees are near roads, homes or other areas that humans frequent.
Uses For Arizona Ash Trees
These trees provide excellent firewood and have been used by Native American tribes for centuries. The wood is suitable for burning in stoves and fireplaces and does not give off an unpleasant odor when it burns. It’s very easy to light, doesn’t create much ash and gives off high amounts of heat.
It’s also very resistant to splitting or shattering when it dries out. Unlike most types of wood, ash trees can be cut and dried out without the risk of developing wood rot or termite damage.
The wood from these trees is used to make baseball bats, tool handles, paddles, skis, hockey sticks and other products that require a lot of strength. The wood is very lightweight but can withstand a lot of force. It’s also used to make stringed musical instruments like violins, cellos, guitars and other types of stringed instruments.
It’s very easy to carve and takes dye very well so it’s often used to make furniture and decorative items.
The wood is also resistant to fire, rot and insects. It has a high ignition temperature and can even be used as a coal substitute when burning in fireplaces. It’s often combined with other types of wood to make a better fire.
Wood from the Arizona ash tree can even be used as a charcoal substitute in barbecues.
Sources & references used in this article:
The Late Triassic Schilderia Adamanica and Woodworthia Arizonica Trees of the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, Usa by GT Creber, SR Ash – Palaeontology, 2004 – Wiley Online Library
The Late Triassic Araucarioxylon Arizonicum trees of the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, USA by SR Ash, GT Creber – Palaeontology, 2000 – Wiley Online Library
Two new late Triassic plants from the Petrified Forest of Arizona by SR Ash – Journal of Paleontology, 1973 – JSTOR
Evidence of oribatid mite herbivory in the stem of a Late Triassic tree fern from Arizona by S Ash – Journal of Paleontology, 2000 – pubs.geoscienceworld.org
Economic Analysis of Arizona Ash Sequentially Produced in Copper-treated or Nontreated 0.21-, 2.5-, and 11.8-Liter Containers by SP Obst, CR Hall, MA Arnold – Hortscience, 1996 – journals.ashs.org
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona by SR Ash – Geological Society of America Centennial Field Guide …, 1987 – books.google.com