Will we have ash in the future?
By Linda Lindberg, Iron-Baraga Forester
CRYSTAL FALLS—It seems in Upper Peninsula, there are only two counties left that don’t have the emerald ash borer knocking at the door or already invited itself in.
We have three types of ash in the U.P. There is white ash, black ash and green ash. They are all hostage to the emerald ash borer.
White ash is the one that grows in the uplands. It has beautiful wood which is a little overused at this point due to the ash resource being riddled by the borer and trees being harvested so they can be used. White ash has seven to nine leaflets to the leave and white on the bottom of the leaflets which gives the tree its name. The bark of the white ash is diamond shaped. White ash are prolific seeders and usually end up being the main regeneration in a stand if there is one ash tree in the stand. White ash is usually mixed with sugar maple.
Sadly, the ash borer attacks the sprouts and regeneration also.
Black ash grows in swales so you will get wet feet if you walk among them. Bears love to cool off in a black ash swale in the spring. Their leaves are slightly different than white ash but still are made up of seven to nine leaflets on a stem to make one leave. The bottom is green. The bark is more flakey, and the trees usually don’t grow that big in diameter.
We have an abundance of black ash swales in the U.P. and it will be sad to lose them. Not having the black ash to absorb the water, may mean the water table will go up in those areas.
Minnesota is working to find other trees they could plant to replace black ash. The research team is testing the non-native Manchurian ash and testing to see if it will survive the harsh winters and growing conditions. They are also planting tamarack, black spruce and white oak to replace the black ash in their test plots.