With trees attracting much of our attention in this lovely season, it seems time for an update on that tree enemy, the emerald ash borer.
This is a big problem for all of us, as there are so many ash trees in Tiffin, on public and private property.
Ash has been one of the most frequently planted ornamental trees in yards and parks and along residential streets.
There are four common species in Ohio, the black, white, green and blue, all true ashes of the genus Fraxinus. Mountain ash, wafer ash and prickly ash trees bear the name, but are not fraxinus and therefore not subject to attacks from EAB.
All four ash types in this area are going to be attacked eventually by this borer, and no effective cure or preventative has been found.
If you are not sure whether your tree is an ash, here are some identifying characteristics. First, there is a slender single trunk, and the branches grow from the trunk opposite one another. The leaves are compound, each leaf being made of somewhere between five and 11 individual leaflets growing opposite one another from the stem. The bark is grayish brown with interlacing ridges that are diamond shaped on the white ash. After the leaves drop, the female trees produce long, drooping clusters of light brown, paddle-shaped fruits one to two inches long and about a quarter or half inch wide. They often remain attached to the twigs through the winter, especially on green ash.
The city of Tiffin has developed a management plan in order to minimize the social and economic impact of the ash borer on the community.
This plan was formulated with the assistance and advice of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. Under these provisions, the city street department is continuing to remove ash trees found in the public right of way and in city parks at the rate of 50 trees a year. Trees in poor condition are being removed first, and others taken out with regard to condition, size and overall impact on the neighborhood and community.
The removals will be spread through the city whenever practical.
As the budget permits, these fallen trees will be replaced with species that are appropriate for the planting site and add to the diversity and general health of our tree-lined streets.
Careful records of each tree on public sites in Tiffin are maintained, and this inventory is being updated constantly - but there are also many thousands of ash trees on private property, and these are the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain so they do not present a danger to people or property.
Many of these are located close to neighboring houses and yards, and could fall on sidewalks and streets if they were to die.
If you would like a tree expert to inspect your trees, either to identify them positively or to advise you on action you need to take, call Public Works at (419) 448-5430. The city cannot work on trees on private property, but would be happy to suggest a course of action. No one likes to remove a tree, especially one that appears perfectly healthy, but in a few years when infection becomes evident, the liability will be yours.
To check your ash tree for evidence of damage, you should look for S-shaped tunnels immediately under the bark, D-shaped emergence holes that are about one-eighth of an inch in diameter, and whitish larvae about an inch long under the bark of the living tree.
It also is possible to see dieback of the top of the tree, a thinning canopy, and shoots sprouting from the main trunk or from the base of the tree.
This is a depressing and expensive situation for the city of Tiffin and for much of our country, but one that has to be faced and addressed. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
Contact her at: