Species Profile

Blue Ash

Scientific Name: Fraxinus quadrangulata
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2014
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern


Go to advanced search

Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Blue Ash

Blue Ash Photo 1
Blue Ash Photo 2

Top

Description

Blue Ash is a medium-sized tree, roughly 20 m in height and up to 80 cm in diameter, and is one of six ash species native to Canada. The trunk can be straight or irregular and the crown is narrow, small and rounded. Trees have light-coloured, reddish-grey or tan-grey, scaly bark. The leaves are compound and opposite with seven (5-11) leaflets and the twigs have square sides with four distinctive corky ridges or wings (hence the scientific epithet quadrangulata). Clusters of small flowers that lack petals are produced in spring, as new leaves are expanding. The fruits are single-seeded samaras that are usually twisted, with a notch in the broad wing. A distinctive feature is the retention of dead lower branches, giving the tree an untidy appearance. The inner bark contains a sticky substance that turns blue upon exposure to air (hence the species’ common name). (Updated 2017/06/02)

Top

Distribution and Population

Blue Ash has a restricted distribution in Canada and occurs only in southwestern Ontario in the counties and municipalities of Elgin, Middlesex, Lambton, Chatham-Kent and Essex. It is found at Point Pelee, Peche Island at the mouth of the Detroit River, and the Erie Islands, as well as in river valleys along the Thames River, Sydenham River, and Catfish Creek. Blue Ash is more widely distributed in the United States, and ranges from Ohio south into Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas and west to Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Kansas. (Updated 2017/06/02)

Top

Habitat

Blue Ash grows in a variety of habitats and soil types. In Ontario, it is found in three distinctive habitat types. They include floodplains and river valleys where Blue Ash grows in rich soils in association with a variety of other tree species; shallow soils on alvar and limestone on the Lake Erie Islands; and stabilized beaches at Point Pelee National Park, and Fish Point on Pelee Island. All of these habitats have declined in area and quality over the last 100 years. While the effects of habitat fragmentation on Blue Ash have not been assessed, it is expected that fragmentation will result in ecological degradation and perhaps genetic degradation over a longer timeframe, which may contribute to decreasing the likelihood of persistence of subpopulations. (Updated 2017/06/02)

Top

Biology

Unlike other ash species, flowers of Blue Ash include both male and female reproductive structures. The species reproduces by seed and there is no evidence of clonal spread. Blue Ash trees can live up to 300 years (typically 150 to 200 years) and age of maturity (fruiting age) is approximately 25 years. Seed crops are produced every 3-4 years and seeds are dispersed by wind. Most seeds likely disperse within 10 m of the parental tree, but a small number of seeds may travel up to 200 m. Seeds may be dispersed over larger distances by water or animal transport. (Updated 2017/06/02)

Top

Threats

Since the last status assessment, the potential for deer browsing to impact recruitment and establishment of Blue Ash has emerged as a greater concern than previously noted. Although a few surveyed sites had very large numbers of seedlings and young trees, at many surveyed sites there was little evidence of regeneration suggesting that deer browsing could be preventing establishment of young trees. In addition, the invasive alien beetle Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has emerged as a new threat to native ash species, including Blue Ash. First detected in North America in 2002, EAB has since spread rapidly. During surveys in 2012/2013, signs of EAB were found at 45.8% (11 out of 26) of the sites and in 70 (3.7%) Blue Ash trees. Although few Blue Ash trees appear to have been killed so far by EAB (0.26% of surveyed trees) and they appear to show resistance, it is unknown whether the impact of EAB will increase in the future. Additional threats to Blue Ash include forest management practices that may include direct cutting of Blue Ash trees because of misidentification by landowners, or authorities – either deliberately or because of EAB-related management; alteration to natural disturbance regimes through fire suppression and water management; impacts of livestock farming and ranching including grazing and trampling in riparian habitats; recreational activities (e.g., all-terrain vehicles in local areas), which could impact regeneration through trampling; and, at Middle Island, nitrification of soils and damage to trees from Double-crested Cormorant guano and nesting activities. (Updated 2017/06/02)

Top

Protection

Federal Protection

The Blue Ash is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

Top

Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

7 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Blue Ash Fraxinus quadrangulata in Canada (2015)

    Blue Ash is a medium-sized tree, roughly 20 m in height and up to 80 cm in diameter, and is one of six ash species native to Canada. The trunk can be straight or irregular and the crown is narrow, small and rounded. Trees have light-coloured, reddish-grey or tan-grey, scaly bark. The leaves are compound and opposite with seven (5-11) leaflets and the twigs have square sides with four distinctive corky ridges or wings (hence the scientific epithet quadrangulata). Clusters of small flowers that lack petals are produced in spring, as new leaves are expanding. The fruits are single-seeded samaras that are usually twisted, with a notch in the broad wing. A distinctive feature is the retention of dead lower branches, giving the tree an untidy appearance. The inner bark contains a sticky substance that turns blue upon exposure to air (hence the species’ common name).

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Blue Ash (2015)

    This tree has a restricted distribution in the Carolinian forests of southwestern Ontario. Small total population size in a fragmented landscape, combined with increasing potential impact from browsing by White-tailed Deer and infestation by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer, place the species at risk of further declines at most sites. In addition, mature trees on Middle Island are threatened by impacts of nesting Double-crested Cormorants. These factors resulted in a change in status from Special Concern to Threatened.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (2016)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the two sites: Point Pelee National Park of Canada (PPNP) and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (NNHS). The NNHS is being used as a term to collectively refer to two locations in the Niagara region that consist of three National Historic Sites: Fort George National Historic Site, Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, and Butler’s Barracks National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at PPNP and at NNHS.

Management Plans

  • Management Plan for the Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata) in Canada (2016)

    The Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency are the competent ministers under SARA for the management of the Blue Ash and have prepared this management plan as per section 65 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Government of Ontario as per section 66(1) of SARA.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2014-2015 (2015)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2014 to September, 2015) from November 23 to November 28, 2014 and from April 27 to May 1, 2015. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2014-2015 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 1 Endangered: 21 Threatened: 11 Special Concern: 21 Data Deficient: 1 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 24 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same risk status as the previous assessment.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act : Terrestrial Species - January 2016 (2016)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments byMay 4, 2016, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 4, 2016, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update March 31, 2017