Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mountain Ash Trees

Hi Nina! I am going to have to give you some bad news. First of all, I don't have any experience with the Mountain Ash, even so, I don't think your mountain ash will grow into a beautiful tree in your yard-so I think your husband is wrong about your little tree. Even though I don't have experience with the tree, I did do a little research to hopefully help you and him out.

I am not sure exactly what variety of mountain ash you have and if you have the latin name, send it to me and I will check to see if there is anything different you need to know than what I am writing about now. I consulted Michael Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. He is widely known as the definitive authority on trees and shrubs. He does have mountain ash listed. I think, knowing the PX, your husband got either an American or European Mountain Ash. The botanical names are Sorbus americana for American, and Sorbus aucuparia for the European. Both trees are common species. Dirr says he has seen these trees from Maine all the way along the Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina. It would seem they might do OK here, but that is not true. Dirr also says these trees grow to about 30' tall and are hardy from Zone 3-6 or 7; BUT "excessive summer heat induces problems."

Mountain ashes are members of the Rosaceae family. As such, they are susceptible to all kinds of problems this family is susceptable to, and the stress of high summer heat will certainly invite in problems. Some problems listed by Dirr are: fireblight, crown gall, canker, leaf rusts, scab, aphids, pear leaf blister mite, Japanese leafhopper, roundheaded borer, mountain ash sawfly, and scales. Dirr says the best line of defense against these problems is a healthy, actively growing tree. The tree prefers a good loamy soil somewhat acidic. It will not tolerate compacted soils. In order to combat some of the heat, I think it would be best to plant this tree where it is shaded from the hot afternoon sun, perhaps on the east side of some trees or a house. The heat here in our zone (6 or 7) depending on who you talk to, will not bode well for this tree as it is generally a northern tree or a tree of higher elevations-in the mountains. Here is an additional link which shows the range:
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SOAM3 This is on the USDA webpage which is a good website to show ranges of plants. Some other links I found which may be helpful are: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/ashmo076.html

This tree is most likely going to be short lived in our area and will never grow into a beautiful specimen like the picture you sent to me. I agree it is gorgeous but there are some plants we cannot grow here due to our climate that northerners are blessed with. (My mother will love that comment)

The PX sometimes has great plants but not all plants sold at the PX or other big box stores and nurseries are suitable for our area. I think nurserymen should do a better job of warning consumers a head of time. My favorite example which I have been personally bit by, is the gardenia. Everyone around here sells this bush in the spring-but it is not hardy for this area. I once asked a nursery woman why she was selling it here since it wasn't hardy. She replied, "It hardy here-in the greenhouse." HaHa. I guess that old adage "Let the buyer beware" couldn't be more apt than in the plant business. Anyhow, nurse the tree along and if it is in a good area as described above and you pay close attention to your mountain ash, it might survive for a few years but it is doubtful it will grow as beautifully as it does in its native range. If you just planted it this year and it is in a full sun area, you might try to find a spot sheltered from the sun and in the coolest area of your yard. It is not too late to transplant a tree. Thanks for the question as I learned something new too!

in the garden....


  1. I just assumed if a nursery sold it, it was okay in that area!
    There should be a law!
    I guess the phrase, “Consumer Beware” applies here… argggggg….

  2. I chose most of my trees because they are native. The 3 fast growing Ausi/hybreds, that I had to have for near instant shade, are in the worst shape.
    The Weeping Willows out here are gorgeous!

  3. Skeeter, you know those nurseries-they gotta make a living too. I think consumers need to learn what they are doing then the nurserymen will be more responsive and only sell what will do well for the area and what is good for the environment while still being attractive.

    Ginger, you must live near some water or have a high water table for the weeping willows to be doing so great. They like alot of water. My mother loves weeping willows and I think they are nice too.

    What kind of trees are your Ausis? I am interested in them. We all want shade and NEED it too don't we? Maybe we can find out what their problem is. I can try to help, but also I would be remiss if I did not mention Jeremy Meyer, the Clarksville City Forester. If you live in the city he can also help, make a diagnosis and recommendations. He is very helpful and friendly.

  4. Hi Guys, I get my tree zones from The National Arbor Foundation. It has a zip code enter that will take you to your area trees. About 10 years ago I purchased a Washington Hawthorne from them, it blooms white and for the first 6 years it had stagnant growth but is now 7 feet. I was astonished to find when it lost the fall folliage it was full of large spikes! Pretty tree but bad for the birds. Jack of all trades and I have a 2 week vacation package that expires Oct 08, we don't know how we are traveling yet, depends on the time of year, school, baseball, etc. I will let you know. The south is a nice place to visit but I would miss my Maine mountians. I will be looking for the prickly pear, I may try putting it outside before planting it. Alpines do not do well up here. PS--GO PATS!! Dawn

  5. I can't remember what my Ausi-trees names are :( ... but will find out, esp. if help is on the way.
    My 2 Weeping Willows were volunteer twigs in 2003 when my son brought them over, with a Dr Suess twig (Magnolia).
    I now have 6 trees in the front yard and 14 trees in the back on less than 1/3 acre. I've got my shade canopy, green and plenty of leaves. In 2008 I will be working on color and something that smells good around the Med. circle.
    Ah, Jeremy Meyer, I think of him as a dog person first and then a tree expert. Did you see the new trees that are now at the Fairground Bark Park?

  6. Hi Dawn and Ginger,
    Dawn, I am so glad you joined in! Your information about the hawthorne trees will surely help out Nina and others on here too.

    I am not sure if our readers are sports fans but saying GO PATS is sure to get a rise out of some if they are since we like to say GO TITANS down here! Sports is the hot topic at school, at least during the world series. One of my friends is a Red Sox fan and he actually vents on Red Sox blogs about it. Too funny, a Red Sox fan in Tennessee.

    You all need to come visit. We have mountains here too and they even get snow.

    Ginger, I did not know Jeremy was a dog person. I haven't been to the fairground park since it was officially dedicated last year. My garden club did purchase a tree though, I guess I should go visit...

    You sound like you have a ton of trees on your property. Good for you. You are definitely doing your part to combat pollution and global warming, not to mention the cooling effect on you and your home.

  7. do the trees give an oder?

    1. Not sure Anonymous because I have not personally smelled the tree but when I Googled "does mountain ash have a scent" tons of websites and forums came up saying it does. You might try Googling what I did and see if it relates to your mountain ash.