Ontario Trees & Shrubs website

Black Ash
Fraxinus nigra

French names: Frčne noir

Family: Olive Family (Oleaceae)

Group: Ashes

Distinctive features: Tree; Opposite bracnhes, compund leaves, grows in wetter areas.

Similar species:
  •   Red Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) - does not grow in wet areas.

  •   White Ash (Fraxinus americana) - does not grow in wet areas.


Flowers: Spring

Leaves: Opposite/Whorled, Compound, Entire;  Opposite, compound. Leaflets have no stalks whatsoever. Smooth on top. Hairy on undersides only where leaflet joins leaf stalk.

Trunk: Corky when young. Scaly when old.

Habitat: Wet Areas;  Wet areas.

Books: Trees in Canada: 166   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: nigra: black


Photographs: 122 photographs available, of which 21 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

A whole compound leaf.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Underside of another whole leaf.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Upper side of a leaflet. Note that there is no stalk on the leaflet. This is a distinctive feature of Black Ash.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Underside of the same leaflet.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

This photo highlights the lack of leaflet stalk.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Smooth underside.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Except for these tufts of hair where the leaflet joins the stem, readily visible in this closeup photo.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Growth form of the leaves.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Leaves opening in the spring. I don't like to anthropomorphise (attribute human ways to plants and animals), but this really looks like it's saying, after the long winter, "Ahhhhh!".

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Detail of a twig. Note the black dots scattered along its length. And also the sometimes flattened appearance.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

How we come to the next distinctive feature of Black Ash: "Black is back". This refers to the two end side buds being located somewhat back from the end terminal bud, as shown in this photo.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Some more bud photos.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Note also the ridged shaped of the terminal bud.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Another terminal bud.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Typical corky ridged bark on young-to-medium aged trees.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

A young tree.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

A very young tree. It goes from this smooth bark, to the corky ridged bark, to the scaly bark of older trees (below).

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

When Black Ash trees get much older, their bark becomes scaly like this. Very different from the younger Black Ash trees, isn't it?! It's like that just to keep you on your toes, so you don't get arrogant thinking you know everything! :)

This tree had me fooled for about 15 minutes, along with my friend who was a native plant specialist, until we finally figured it out! Problem was, we were going by what the books say, that the bark is corky and ridged. We hadn't read in the few books where bark was described as being scaly.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

A young tree.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

An older tree, but still very young. Black Ash trees like to grow in wet areas such as swamps and marshes. But if planted, they will grow elsewhere.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

Black Ash seeds in the winter.


Range map for Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)