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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Carolina Ash

Carolina Ash

(Fraxinus caroliniana Mill)

  Carolina ash, or Carolina water ash, is a rather small tree that grows only in the deeper swamps along river bottoms in the Coastal Plain, although it has been found in this state as far west as Wake and Anson counties.

The leaves are from 7 to 12 inches long, with five to nine leaflets (usually seven). They are oval or oblong, coarsely toothed along the margin (sometimes only remotely toothed), green on top, thick and firm. They are relatively short and broad -- 2 to 5 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. Carolina ash flowers generally are similar to those of the other ash species. There are two kinds of flowers and they grow on separate trees. They are very small and appear in compound clusters with or before the leaves appear. The male flowers are in a dense mass; the female in a more open cluster, or panicle.

The fruit is completely winged (sometimes three-winged) around a narrow, pointed, short, compressed or flattened body that contains the seed. The wing often is 2 inches long by about 3/4 inch wide and often is bright violet.

Carolina ash seldom grows more than 25 feet tall and 6 to 8 inches in diameter. The wood of the Carolina ash is light, soft, weak and close-grained. It is yellow -white, with a wide band of lighter colored sapwood. It is not used for any specific purpose.
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