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Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda (Bush) Bush)

Also known as red ash.

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Range - Expand

Native or Not Present
Native or Expanded
Expanded or Not Present
Native or Expanded or Not Present

This map is based on our research. We have checked its accuracy to Level 3 ecoregions. Although this plant occurs somewhere in each of these regions, it may only occur in a small part of some or all of them.


Pupmkin ash has a scattered and discontinuous distribution, mostly along the east coast, gulf coast, and up the Mississippi alluvial plain with scattered populations northeast to the southern shore of Lake Erie.

It is mainly found on sites so wet that some standing water usually persists into the beginning of the growing season. Natural habitats include swamps and bottomlands along major rivers, tidal estuaries, and coastal marshes. Usually limited to areas with flat terrain and slow-moving water, typically in backswamps or other areas set back from a river's channel.

It is usually found on sites with mineral-rich soils with a texture ranging from loam to silt-loam on the lower layer, but with a shallow layer of muck or peat on top, but it can occur on some sites with sandy soils in the north of its range, or leached clay soils in the southeastern coastal plain. this species may not be particular about soil type.

The conditions that this species grows in tend to be consistently wetter and more flooded than those preferred by green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) or black ash (Fraxinus nigra), two Fraxinus species that overlap with this one in range that also prefer wet,swampy, and/or flood-prone sites.

Life Cycle

Pumpkin ash is a large tree whose growth can be either rapid or slow, depending on the conditions it is found in. Its growth rate is typically limited by drainage and soil aeration, and is slower on the poorest-drained sites; although it grows slower here, it is often more competitive with other vegetation.

This species is dioecious, having separate female and male trees. The seed is primarily wind-dispersed, although it is larger than other native ashes and as such falls closer to the parent tree, which may be related to this species' discontinuous distribution. Water plays a supplemental role in distributing seed to new areas, although water is less important to this species than others that grow directly along waterways.

Although the habitats this species occurs in do not frequently burn, if they do, fire typically kills this tree. It also has poor drought tolerance; paradoxically, individuals growing on the wettest sites often have the greatest susceptibility to drought, perhaps because they have the shallowest root systems. Mature trees often become susceptible to upper stem heartrot from the Lentinus tigrinus fungus.


This species is sometimes harvested for wood; the wood is darker and slightly less dense and strong than that of white ash (Fraxinus americana); it has a coarse texture resembling that of oak. It has good workability, but, like wood from other ash species, gives off an unpleasant odor during working, and exposure can cause skin and lung irritation. Although it tends to be inexpensive, it is not as available as other ash species, and its availability has been severely reduced due to the emerald ash borer decimating native ash populations.

Prior to the introduction of the emerald ash borer, this species was occasionally planted as a landscaping plant. In landscaping, it was valued for its rapid growth, tolerance of wet sites and poor drainage, and resistance to heavy deer browsing. Its best uses in landscaping are in rain gardens, drainage basins, and other artificial wetlands. However, its use was limited by its poor drought tolerance, which is poorer than most other species that also grow on wet sites, and its large size.


We recommend avoiding the use of the common name "red ash" to refer to this species as it more frequently refers to green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), and specifically, to var. pensylvanica of that species, among authorities that recognize varieties.

Pumpkin Ash | The Wood Database (About This Site)

Fraxinus profunda (Pumpkin Ash) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Fraxinus profunda (Pumpkin Ash) | Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder (About This Site)

Pumpkin Ash | Virginia Tech Dendrology Factsheets (About This Site)

Pumpkin Ash | Silvics of North America (About This Site)

Fraxinus profunda | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Fraxinus profunda (Bush) Bush | Plants of the World Online (POWO) (About This Site)

Fraxinus profunda | NatureServe Explorer (About This Site)

Pumpkin Ash | Maryland Biodiversity Project (About This Site)

Fraxinus profunda (Bush) Bush (Pumpkin Ash) | Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora (About This Site)