Carolina Nature

Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of North Carolina

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda)

Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Scrophulariales>Oleaceae>Fraxinus profunda (Bush) Bush

Pumpkin Ash is an uncommon large tree of wet habitats. It is found in swamps and on river and stream banks in the Coastal Plain and rarely also in the lower Piedmont and Mountains of North Carolina.

Mitchell Mill State Natural Area, Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) leaves

Very similar to White Ash (Fraxinus americana), Pumpkin Ash differs in in several ways: it occurs in much wetter habitats, the leaves are less whitened beneath and usually have densely white-hairy rachides and petiolules (leaf stalks), and the wings on the samaras (fruits) are broader and extend further along the body of the seed.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) leaves

Detail showing densely white-hairy rachis and petiolules. (Note, however, that forms of Pumpkin Ash from the southern part of its range may be hairless). A synonym is Fraxinus tomentosa, which refers to the tomentose (densely pubescent) leaves and young branches. The specific epithet profunda, meaning deep or obscure, may refer to the habit of growing in standing water, or may refer to the fact that it is a relatively obscure species.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) leaves

Leaf detail, showing underside densely covered with short, straight white hairs. White Ash may also have white-hairy leaf undersides.

The leaf undersides are paler. Some sources report them to be as green as those of Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), but those of the trees at this site are somewhat whitened.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) branch

Branch detail. New branches are green and densely covered with short, straight white hairs. Last year's gray branch shows a leaf scar surrounding the tawny bud that is U-shaped, slightly surrounding the bud. Those of White Ash are similar, but usually more deeply notched.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) fruit

Nearly mature samaras on a large tree. The samaras may be nearly as broad as those of Carolina Ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), a small tree that occurs in the same habitats.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) samaras

The wings on the samaras are broader and extend further along the body of the seed than those of White Ash &mdash about half way vs. less than a third of the way in White Ash.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) samaras

Maturing samaras.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) bark

Bark of a small stem.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) bark

Bark of two medium-small stems of the same tree as above.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda) bark

Bark of a large tree.

Wake Co., NC 5/23/09.

More information:
US Forest Service Silvics Manual
Virginia Tech Dendrology

Recommended Tree, Shrub, and Woody Vine Identification Guides