Pumpkin Ash - Fraxinus profunda - The combination of buttressed trunk base, large pinnately compound leaves with 7-9 dark green leaflets and samara fruit make this species easily identifiable. Pumpkin Ash is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of 35-90 feet tall, growing in an erect form with a single straight or crooked trunk. It is native to swamps, old lake beds, freshwater tidal wetlands, floodplains and wet woodlands along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers from Michigan south through Louisiana and along the Eastern seaboard from New Jersey south through Florida. The Pumpkin Ash is often times confused with the Water Ashes in the Carolina Ash family.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Pumpkin Ash - Fraxinus profunda
Image Citation: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University
Leaves are opposite, pinnately compounded with blades 20-45 cm long, rachis 8/15 cm long, 7-9 leaflets ovate in shape, narrowly oblong or elliptic. The upper leaflet surface is dark green and hairless, the lower surface is hairy. In the fall, the foliage turns bronze to reddish purple before falling off to make way for the next years foliage. The bark is light gray with interlacing ridges. The swollen or "pumpkin" like trunk base is visibly apparent on some trees, especially those growing in deep swamp areas in the Southern growth range. The fruit is in the form of a samara 4-7 cm long and up to 14 mm broad. The fruit range in shape from narrowly linear to elliptic, with a wing arising from the base of the seed body. The fruit matures in early Autumn.
Best suited for hardiness zones 5-9, Pumpkin Ash prefers moist to slightly dry soil. It grows well in deep, loamy soil and swamp areas. Birds and small mammals feed readily on the seeds produced by this tree. It also provides cover and habitat for birds and other wildlife. The larvae of the Emerald Ash Borer feed destructively and can kill this species. Flies and caterpillars also will feed on the foliage.