Fraxinus pennsylvanica (Green Ash or Red Ash) is a species of ash native to eastern and central North America, from Nova Scotia west to southeastern Alberta and eastern Colorado, south to northern Florida, and southwest to eastern Texas.
It is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 12-25 m (rarely to 45 m) tall with a trunk up to 60 cm in diameter. The bark is smooth and gray on young trees, becoming thick and fissured with age. The winter buds are reddish-brown, with a velvety texture. The leaves are 15-30 cm long, pinnately compound with seven to nine (occasionally five or eleven) leaflets, these 5–15 cm (rarely 18 cm) long and 1.2–9 cm broad, with serrated margins and short but distinct, downy petiolules a few millimeters long. They are green both above and below. The autumn color is golden-yellow, and the tree is usually the earliest to change color, sometimes being in autumn color as early as Labor Day. The flowers are produced in spring at the same time as the new leaves, in compact panicles; they are inconspicuous with no petals, and are wind-pollinated. The fruit is a samara 2.5-7.5 cm long comprising a single seed 1.5-3 cm long with an elongated apical wing 2-4 cm long and 3-7 mm broad.
It is sometimes divided into two varieties, Fraxinus pennsylvanica var. pennsylvanica (Red Ash) and Fraxinus pennsylvanica var. lanceolata (Borkh.) Sarg. (syn. var. subintegerrima (Vahl) Fern.; Green Ash) on the basis of the hairless leaves with narrower leaflets of the latter, but the two intergrade completely, and the distinction is no longer upheld by most botanists.
It is the most widely distributed of all the American ashes. Naturally a moist bottom land or stream bank tree, it is hardy to climatic extremes. The large seed crops provide food to many kinds of wildlife.
Green Ash wood is similar in properties to White Ash wood, and is marketed together as "white ash". The commercial supply is mostly in the South. It is very popular, used in making guitars because it can be somewhat lighter than white ash without sacrificing too much in tone. It has a bright sound with long sustain, plus the wood grain is aesthetically desirable to many guitar players. Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, and many luthiers use ash in the construction of their guitars.
Other names more rarely used include downy ash, swamp ash and water ash.