Fall Foliage of American Mountain Ash Trees
American mountain ash trees (Sorbus americana) are grown in zones 3-8 and reach a maximum height of 30'. Their fall foliage color is yellow. This deciduous tree provides spring and summer interest as well. In spring it produces flat-topped clusters of small, white flowers. Those blooms give off a rather foul smell, but they do yield to clusters of vibrantly-colored red berries in the summertime. These specimens are indigenous to Eastern North America.
Fall Foliage of White Ash Trees
White ash trees (Fraxinus americana) can be grown in zones 3-9. This is another Eastern North American native deciduous tree. Much taller specimens than American mountain ash trees, white ashes reach 70' tall on average. They prefer full sun and rich soil. While white ash trees like a lot of water, they also require good drainage. Summer foliage is dark green on top, but with a very light color on the underside of the leaf -- thus it's common name.
Fall foliage color on many specimens begins as yellow, then morphs to purple. I think they're especially attractive when they're at an in-between stage: a mix of yellow and purple. However, the fall foliage of white ashes can be short-lived. Another drawback: you'll have to plant this one away from the house, since the branches of white ashes are not strong enough to withstand high winds or ice accumulation.
Ash Tree Lore
Of all the ashes, it is the European ashes (Fraxinus excelsior) that are most famous in literature. In Norse mythology a particular European ash tree called, "Yggdrasil" supports the very universe. But just as the Norse gods are doomed to succumb eventually to their foes, the Giants, so even this tree is not invincible. A terrible serpent gnaws at its root in Niflheim, and the great ash someday will come crashing down -- and along with it, the universe.
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