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Info Sheet PDF
Bonita Ash

Fraxinus velutina 'Bonita'

Mature Height*: 

15-30 ft

Mature Width*: 

10-25 ft

USDA Hardiness Zone Range:

7 to 11

Hardy to: 


Water Requirements: 

Moderate Water

Shade Requirements:

Full Sun

Native to:

Southwest US from California, Utah, Nevada, Texas and Arizona.

Origin and Adaptability:

Elevate your landscape with the timeless beauty of Fraxinus velutina 'Bonita,' commonly known as Arizona Ash. Originating from the arid regions of the southwestern United States, including Arizona and New Mexico, this versatile tree is well-adapted to hot, dry climates. It thrives in a variety of soil types, making it an ideal choice for desert landscapes, urban settings, and water-wise designs. The Arizona ash is also known as velvet ash, desert ash, leather leaf ash, smooth ash, Toumey ash, Fresno ash, and Modesto ash.

Architectural Form and Foliage:

Deeply rooted in the Southwest, the 'Bonita' cultivar of Arizona Ash presents a stately silhouette, with a rounded canopy and glossy, dark green foliage. In autumn, the leaves transform into a breathtaking display of golden-yellow hues, adding warmth and vibrancy to the landscape. Its smooth bark and graceful branching pattern further enhance its visual appeal, making it a popular choice for street trees and residential yards alike.

Floral Display and Growth Speed:

While Arizona Ash is not typically grown for its flowers, it occasionally produces small clusters of inconspicuous flowers in spring. However, its real showstopper is the stunning display of fall foliage, with leaves turning shades of gold, amber, and russet before dropping in late autumn. This deciduous tree has a moderate growth rate, reaching heights of 30 to 50 feet within a few decades.

Light and Water Requirements:

Arizona Ash thrives in full sun to partial shade, although it prefers ample sunlight to achieve its full potential. Once established, it is moderately drought-tolerant, requiring supplemental irrigation during extended dry periods. However, care should be taken to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other health issues.

Wildlife and Pollinators:

While Arizona Ash is not a significant attractant for pollinators, its dense foliage provides habitat and shelter for birds and small mammals. In addition, the tree's seeds are a valuable food source for wildlife, contributing to the biodiversity of the surrounding ecosystem.

Cultural Significance and Edibility:

In Indigenous cultures of the Southwest, Arizona Ash holds cultural significance as a source of wood for construction, tool-making, and traditional crafts. While not edible for humans, certain parts of the tree have been used in herbal medicine by Native American tribes for various ailments.

Challenges and Considerations:

It's important to exercise caution when planting Arizona Ash, as it is highly susceptible to trunk scald from intense western sun exposure. To mitigate this risk, consider planting the tree in a location where it will receive protection from harsh afternoon sunlight, such as near taller buildings or existing vegetation. Additionally, regular pruning and maintenance are necessary to promote a strong, healthy canopy and prevent the spread of pests and diseases.

Integration into Landscape Designs:

With its striking fall foliage, adaptable nature, and cultural significance, Fraxinus velutina 'Bonita' is a versatile addition to a wide range of landscape designs. Landscape architects and designers can use it as a shade tree for residential yards, as a street tree for urban beautification projects, or as a focal point in park and campus settings. Its seasonal color changes and low maintenance requirements make it an attractive choice for sustainable, water-wise landscapes.

Designing with Fraxinus velutina 'Bonita':

For landscape architects and designers seeking to create inviting outdoor spaces with a touch of autumnal charm, Arizona Ash 'Bonita' offers a winning combination of visual appeal, adaptability, and cultural significance. Whether used as a single specimen or planted in groups for greater impact, this iconic tree adds a timeless elegance to any landscape.

*Height and width estimated for growth in the Tucson, AZ area. True sizes may vary.

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