Red Ash - Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Red Ash is the most widely distributed ash species in Canada, and is common in the prairies. Red Ash can be distinguished from other Ontario species by the distinctive hairy underside of leaves and twigs. Hairy twigs are only indicative of one other ash species, the rare Pumpkin Ash.  Red Ash bark can produce a red dye, and the hardy wood is often used to make sports equipment.  Like other Ontario ashes, the Red Ash seeds, cased in winged samaras, are an extremely important source of winter food for many animals, including cardinals and finches.  Unfortunately, also similar to other Ontario ashes, Red Ash is in severe danger from the non-native Emerald Ash Borer.

Red Ash Leaves
Note the distinct hairy undersides of young leaves and new stems. Red Ash leaves usually occur in groups of 7 leaflets.  The leaves turn yellowish-brown in autumn. Photo by Sean Fox.

Red Ash Bud
Red Ash terminal buds are reddish and hairy, measuring 3-8 mm in length. Photo by Sean Fox.

Red Ash Bark
Red Ash bark can be distinguished from some other ashes by the flaky, reddish pieces and irregular diamond shape of the ridges. Photo by Sean Fox.

Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Red Ash. 1995-1999.

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Farrar, J.L.. 1995. Trees in Canada. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd. Toronto. ON. 504 pp.  

Kershaw, L. 2001. Trees in Ontario: Including tall shrubs. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. AB. 240 pp

Muma, W. 2011. Ontario Trees and Shrubs. [Online] Available:

OMNR, 2011. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [Online] Available:

OMNR, 2008. Ontario’s Biodiversity: Species at Risk.