The phrase “Beauty is only skin deep” can be traced to the 1600’s as a proverb of shall we say “well rooted” advice. Today majestic and beautiful Ash trees that for years lined our streets have proven this proverb painfully true as their skin (bark) is peeled back. These stately giants of the Fraxinus genus like White Ash typically grow 50 to 80 feet tall with a spread of similar proportions. I’ve always liked the ash tree because it ages well both seasonally and over the course of it’s life. Seasonally, the tree saves the best for last. After providing shade in summer and a playground for squirrels, it closes out the season with reliably beautiful yellow fall color come football season. Over the course of it’s life, the tree becomes impressive in size and stature, with a very furrowed bark along it’s trunk, similar to the forehead of a wise old man.
Unfortunately, the emerald ash borer often does so much damage under the bark or skin of the tree, that by the time the problem is noticed, it’s too late. For those with time, heed the warning that beauty is only skin deep by insuring the interior is well with treatments protecting the tree. For those trees already ravaged by the larva of EAB (see picture) it’s owner can learn a valuable lesson. When replacing this fallen giant, beauty comes from diversity. Take a walk through your neighborhood and make note of existing trees and which trees your neighbors will be planting. Get to know your neighbors. Then agree that diversity is better than a street lined with one type of tree. You plant a Ginkgo, your neighbor plants a Zelkova and your new friend across the street can plant a Maple.
Celebrate that we’re stronger and better when we’re diverse, and that beauty will always be skin deep.
Here are some acceptable “street trees” that might be a good alternative to ash……
Acer (Maple), Betula Nigra (Heritage Birch), Carpinus (Hornbeam), Celtis (Hackberry), Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura tree), Cercis canadensis (Red bud tree), Cladrastis lutea (Yellowood), Cornus Kousa (Kousa dogwood), Crataegus (Hawthorn), Fagus (Beech), Ginkgo biloba, (Gingko tree), Gleditsia triacanthos (Locust), Liquidambar (Sweet Gum), Lirodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree), Malus (Flowering crab), Metasequoia glyptostrodoides (Dawn Redwood), Prunus (Kwanzan cherry or Ornamental Plum), Pyrus (Ornamental Pear), Quercus (Oak), Syringa (Tree Lilac), Tilia (Little leaf Linden), Ulmus (New disease resistant Elms), Zelkova (Japanese Zelkova).
There you have it, I’m not out on a limb when I say get together with your neighbors and branch out!