Update: September 2009
Emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive species, threatens to kill Minnesota’s ash trees. In response, Andrew David, a University of Minnesota forest genetics researcher, and Mike Reichenbach, forestry educator with University of Minnesota Extension, began a project to protect the genetic diversity of ash in Minnesota.
Seed collected from wild-grown ash trees will be sent to one of three seed storage facilities in Colorado, Georgia or Iowa depending on the amount of seed collected. This seed collection effort is a proactive response to the presence of EAB in Minnesota and the upper Great Lakes region. This conservation effort will preserve the genetic variation for a future point in time when EAB can be controlled and ash species can be reintroduced to Minnesota using locally adapted seed sources.
How to collect and contribute seed
Ash seed has been ripening all summer and will be ready to pick when the seed cavity is completely filled and the seed coat is brown. Collection of seed typically begins about September 21st and can continue through much of the fall. Black ash seed is the hardest to collect because it is difficult to judge ripeness and the seed begins to fall with the leaves. The best time to collect black ash seed is from 1 week prior to leaf fall to approximately 2 weeks after all leaves have dropped.
In contrast green ash seed will remain on the tree for awhile after the leaves have fallen allowing collections into late fall. It will be easier to collect from trees before the seed is scattered by winds and rain. Persons wishing to collect seed should watch the ash seed collection webinar found listed under the webinars tab at http://forest.nrri.umn.edu/ash. The ash seed collection form can also be downloaded here.
Value of ash to Minnesota; ongoing threat of EAB
Minnesota is host to three species of ash: white ash, green ash and black ash. While white ash is an upland species found along the Mississippi River in southeast Minnesota; both black and green ash are common lowland hardwoods found throughout the majority of the state. Ecologically, black and green ash are the most important hardwoods in the lowland forest community. They represent 51 percent of the lowland hardwood cover type in Minnesota. Black ash is very important in native cultures as a source of wood for ash baskets. Both black and green ash provide a source of pallet, saw and veneer logs. All of Minnesota’s native ash species are threatened by EAB.
EAB was most likely introduced to the region when it was transported on wood packaging of an overseas shipment from Asia in 2002 to the Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario area. Within the United States the insect is most often transported on firewood. As of August, EAB has been found in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It has been responsible for the death of over 20 million ash trees despite quarantines on moving nursery stock and firewood out of infected areas.
This conservation effort will preserve the genetic variation for a future point in time when EAB can be controlled and ash species can be reintroduced to Minnesota using locally adapted seed sources.
Click for much more information on emerald ash borer in Minnesota. To get involved in seed collection, contact Mike Reichenbach, (888) 241-0724, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Gary Wyatt, (888) 241-3214, email@example.com, both with University of Minnesota Extension.