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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fraxinus ornus - Flowering Ash

The Flowering ash or sometimes called the Manna ash is a small to medium sized deciduous tree growing 25-50' with a spreading habit. Most literature suggests they are small trees in their native habitat of Spain. Not a great shot below, nor a great specimen being pruned by highway crews, but for now it's all I have.



Leaves deciduous, opposite, pinnately compound, 8-12" long, with 7-9 leaflets. Each leaflet about 2-3" long, medium green, oblong except the terminal which is a bit wider, margins serrated, cuneate base and acuminate tip, lower surface lighter green. Known to have weak reddish fall color, but having just stumbled on this one specimen, I have not seen the fall color.



Flowers creamy yellow in mass but more or less white close up. Trees are androdioecious, new term for me, where plants can produce perfect flowers or they can produce only male flowers. Then again I read that they might not be "functionally" androdioecious?? The flowers are borne in very showy panicles emerging with the spring foliage, males with two stamens, four white strap-like petals and fragrant. They have the typical privet smell.





Fruit is a narrow samara typical of ash trees.


Terminal bud is large, dull brown, many other Ash trees are copper colored buds. Leaf scars are pretty small and more or less flat topped.





Misidentification:
Any other ash tree if not in bloom. Actually, I drive by the specimen almost every day on the freeway and I suspect I thought it was a Sambucus but the other day it just looked different to me so I went back to look. Flowers in May, looking a lot like Chionanthus flowers. Foliage is slightly different that others around here, the terminal is quite broad and the terminal buds are large and dull brown.


Location:
Aptos
9057 Soquel Dr. Really across the street at the bus stop.

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