Common Arizona Ash Tree Problems and Solutions

Despite its geographical name, the Arizona ash tree has become a beloved staple here in Texas.

It’s no wonder why. Though they sometimes get a bad rap for the abundance of leaves they shed each fall, these deciduous trees are great at withstanding our summer heat and develop an attractive, lush canopy. Their medium size makes them a great tree to place near streets or sidewalks, but their quick growth and abundance of shade can also make them perfect for shielding your home from the sun.

Of course, ensuring that a young ash sapling reaches the peak of maturity takes more than good luck. If you’re not familiar with the maintenance issues, pests, and diseases Arizona ash trees tend to attract, you may not be prepared to prevent them. Here’s what you should know about common issues and solutions affecting these trees.

What to Expect in a Healthy Arizona Ash Tree

Knowing what to expect from a healthy ash tree can help you keep an eye out for issues and inconsistencies.

The Arizona ash tree (Fraxinus velutina), nicknamed the velvet ash, is a stout desert shade tree. Though younger trees have a more pyramidal shape, adult trees should grow a dense and often rounded canopy that offers a wide umbrella of shade.

Leaves should be gray-green to dark green, and they should range from around three to six inches long in a healthy adult tree. Instead of a waxen texture, leaves should feel velvety or leathery.

In the fall, leaves should turn bright yellow before falling. You should also expect trees to shed large quantities of flowers each spring.

This ash tree subspecies is very fast-growing, and it can reach thirty to fifty feet once it is fully grown. However, these trees are also relatively short-lived, as their lifespan is only around thirty years.

Arizona ash trees thrive in full sun, so it’s best to plant them in an area that gets at least six hours of direct sun every day. They’re also hardy, with the ability to grow in a range of alkaline and rocky soil types. Because they’re desert-friendly trees, they tend to be drought-resistant.

Arizona Ash Tree Planting and Maintenance Issues

In general, caring for trees like the Arizona ash is simple. These hardy trees don’t need as much care as ornamental trees, but effective sapling protection and regular maintenance can help maintain your tree’s health.

Insufficient Sunlight

If you notice that your Arizona ash tree isn’t growing flowers in the spring, or if its leaves have turned color before the fall, it may be a sign of stress. Insufficient sunlight is a common reason why these trees fail to grow as expected. Replanting the tree in a different area, if it’s young and small enough, can be a good way to resolve the issue.

Poor Watering

Though ash trees can be drought resistant, young trees need regular watering as they establish their root systems, and even older trees may need help during long dry spells. Wilting, browning, or discolored leaves can be a sign of insufficient water. In the worst-case scenario, you may notice radial cracks in the trunk as leaves, stems, and roots begin to shrink.

Experts recommend watering Arizona ash trees once every seven to 10 days in the summer.

Little or No Pruning

As with all types of trees, regular pruning is the key to health. Structurally sound trees are better able to withstand disease, pests, and other issues. Leaving your tree to grow without trimming can encourage weak growth and broken branches, especially in young trees.

If you notice broken or weak branches, or if you see spots and cracks on the branches or trunk, it’s time to call an expert for trimming and pruning. These experts can ensure that decaying branches don’t weaken the tree while leaving straight, stable, and healthy branches alone to flourish. You should plan to do careful pruning of an Arizona ash for at least the first 15 years of its growth.

Common Pests in Arizona Ash Trees

Ash trees in general have a wide range of associated pests. The best way to find a pest infestation is to do a close inspection of your tree, but you may also see signs like drooping leaves or damaged bark.

Again, pruning is your best bet for preventing infestations, though insecticides can also help in high-risk areas. Contacting a tree expert is always your best bet for prevention and eradication.

Leaf Feeders

Leaf feeders like caterpillars and cankerworms can attack the foliage of an Arizona ash. These pests tend to skeletonize the leaves, leaving only the veins behind. Look for obvious signs of leaf damage and pests on leaf surfaces.

Sap Feeders

Sap feeders are often small and hard to spot. They include lace bugs, mealybugs, and scales.

These pests can impact the twigs and branches as well as the leaves of a plant, and they tend to reproduce in large numbers. Look for tiny pests on the undersides of leaves as well as the surfaces of branches.


Boring insects, like the ash borer and lilac borer, will eat and/or lay their eggs in the bark of ash trees. Significant infestations can cause severe damage to a tree.

Common Diseases in Arizona Ash Trees

Arizona ash trees are vulnerable to many of the same conditions and diseases you’d expect from other trees. This includes mildew, fungal infections, and rust disease.

In addition, the ash tree species has its own unique types of these tree problems. Ash anthracnose, for example, is a specific fungal infection that makes the leaves of a tree develop dark spots.

Other cosmetic issues, like ash rust or ash flower gall, are unsightly without harming the tree.

Though there’s no way to guarantee that diseases won’t reach your tree, proper pruning and watering can help minimize the risk of all these issues.

Get Expert Care for Your Arizona Ash

Arizona ash trees are vibrant and hardy trees beloved for their fast growth and generous shade. Knowing what issues affect your tree and taking proper care of it can ensure that you’ll be able to enjoy its beauty for years to come.

If you’re concerned that your Arizona ash tree may be struggling with any of the common issues above, trust the team at Action Tree Service. Our tree care specialists are proud to help commercial and residential property owners throughout the San Antonio area ensure the health of their plants. To learn how we can help, contact us today.

Contact Us

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.