A genus of some 65 species of shrubs and trees, mostly deciduous and native to temperate regions. Leaves are opposite and compound (pinnate). Flowers are small, bisexual or unisexual, not ornamental, and appear before the leaves. Fruit is a 1-seeded samara ("key") with a flattened, thin wing (reminiscent of a canoe paddle). Females of some species bear numerous large clusters of fruit, sometimes considered unattractive and messy. Native to temperate North America, Europe, and Asia, with a few found in the tropics.
Fraxinus: the Latin name for the ash.
Caution: Fraxinus species native to North America are threatened by an Asian insect, the emerald ash borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis). Emerald ash borer is an exotic beetle that was first discovered in the U.S. in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. However, the larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients. The insect probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia. Emerald ash borer has become established in a large portion of North America, the area is bordered by Ontario and Quebec on the north, and North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas on the south and from the Atlantic Coast west to Minnesota, Kansas, and Colorado (see http://www.emeraldashborer.info/).