Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fraxinus anomala

Plant of the Week #3: Single Leaf Ash

Fraxinus anomala
or Single Leaf Ash is a much-loved desert southwest shrub or small tree. Much loved by me alone I thought. But a Google search revealed that I wasn't the only person on earth so enamored with this gift of bright green happiness. These photos were taken on our last camping trip to southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado in May 2007. I took about a thousand photos of plants. Many will appear here in later posts. Plant Geek indeed.

As the Latin name states, it's an anomaly. The only plant of it's genus without compound leaves. It's also an anomaly in the landscape. Struggling out of dry cracks and crevices that other plants could never call home, the ash is a welcome burst of bright green on a hike in the desert or buried in a canyon where most other plants are clothed in a dusty blue or gray.

This shot was taken above our campsite on a 60 degree incline in the San Rafael Swell's Buckhorn Draw. Lola our dog attempted to dutifully join us and ended up sliding backwards down the slickrock taking off her nails in the process. She's a bruiser. The blood and the pain did not deter her.

Back to the Ash. A multi-trunked shrub to 14 feet under ideal conditions. Much less in harsher locations. The bark becomes dark, ribbed and flaky with age, like it's larger compound-leaved cousins. Also like other ashes, it's a prolific seeder with winged seeds visible in the photo. Zone 5-7. I doubt you can buy this at the local nursery, but it would make an excellent addition to a desert or mountain naturescape. You bet your ass it's drought tolerant!

Special thanks to some guy on the web for the above photo. Shows the form a bit better than I could muster leaning back onto the slickrock and holding on to a piñon pine. (Ohhh, piñon pine, now there's a good one!)

"Why is that man taking pictures of weeds?"

1 comment:

  1. Love the beautiful red rock and green plant shots. Always have. We are enjoying this post. Daren is loving the POTW post, you should see his garden this year. We're eating fresh peas!


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