Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Small's Ash - Fraxinus smallii   Britton
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DistributionThe range in the state is poorly known, but specimens are reported (though not picked up by the SERNEC collections website) from much of the mountains and Piedmont, and perhaps into the western Coastal Plain, about like that of White Ash (F. americana), to which it is very closely allied. Presumed to occur in most counties eastward into the western Coastal Plain. However, the SERNEC website lists collections from only three counties. As this is such a "new" species to nearly all biologists, perhaps little effort has been made to become familiar with it and then collect it. Thus, the map below is very incomplete.

According to Nesom, in a 2010 paper in the journal Phytoneuron where he recognizes this taxon as a good species, it occurs in “Ala., Ark., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Md., Miss., Mo., N.J.?, N.C., Ohio, Okla.?, Pa., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va.” Thus, it has a broad range in the East, from MD, IL, and MO south to FL and TX, but does not extend nearly as far north as White Ash.
AbundanceProbably uncommon to fairly common. Very poorly known, as it is very close in characters to White Ash and was only recently split out as a species in 2010. Weakley's (2018) map indicates that it is "uncommon" in all three provinces in the state.
HabitatAccording to Nesom (2010): “Bottomland forests, alluvial woods, creek terraces, flood plains, sandy swales, slopes, ridges, river bluffs, loess hills, beech-maple, upland hardwoods, oak-pine; 100–400 (–1200, in Rabun County, Ga.) m”. Weakley (2018) gives its habitats as: “Bottomland forests, alluvial woods, river bluffs, upland hardwood forests, oak-pine forests.” Note that these encompass a very broad range of both upland and lowland habitats, with the exception of swamps and other truly wet areas. The habitats for White Ash are very similar to these.
See also Habitat Account for Ash Forests
PhenologyFlowers for February to April, rarely to May.
IdentificationYou will need to key out twigs to identify this species, as it is so very similar to White Ash. Because it has glabrous (smooth) twigs, petioles, and rachises, as does White Ash, the quite pubescent/tomentose Biltmore Ash (F. biltmoreana) is eliminated by the hairiness. To separate Small’s Ash from White Ash, you need to look at petiole bases and leaf scars. Small’s Ash has “Petiole bases and leaf scars oblong-obovate to widely obovate with a nearly truncate apex” (Nesom 2010); on the other hand, White Ash has “Petiole bases and leaf scars V- to U- or crescent-shaped with a deeply concave or notched apex” (Nesom 2010). If fruit are present, Small’s Ash has larger/longer samaras – 32-54 mm (roughly 1.2-2.1”) long, whereas White Ash has samaras that are 25-32 mm (about 1-1.2”) long. The bodies of the samaras are also slightly larger in Small’s Ash, as well.
Taxonomic CommentsThough this taxon was originally described as a species by Britton many decades ago, it was included within White Ash by almost all authors and references until 2010, when Nesom (2010) published detailed information on it and recognized it as a valid species. Of course, this remains to see if, over the test of time, other authors also consider it as a valid species. NatureServe does not consider it valid, or even as a variety of White Ash; Weakley (2018) does list it as a valid species.

Other Common Name(s)Small’s White Ash
State RankS4?
Global RankGNR
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