The neighborhoods of Wedgwood and Meadowbrook in northeast Seattle enjoy a beautiful drive along the main arterial, 35th Ave NE, under the canopy of Flame Ash trees. These street trees were planted between 1965 to 1972 as part of Urban Forestry of the Seattle Department of Transportation, which does all street-related work.
Perhaps Wedgwood and Meadowbrook are among the most tree-oriented neighborhoods of Seattle. The Seattle Audubon Society whose office is at 8050 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood, advocates for Seattle’s tree canopy and the distribution of trees throughout the City of Seattle.
Flame Ash trees are a “cultivar” (cultivated variety) in the category of Narrowleaf Ash, and are closely related to Raywood Ash, also often used in Seattle as a street tree.
In the etymology of the name, the wood of the ash tree was used to make spears, and as a result the word was sometimes used in Old English to refer to those spears. “Ash” then came to describe the narrow spear-shaped leaves. The leaves are in whorls on twigs so that each grouping is bunchy and extending out in all directions like a feather duster.
A description of Flame Ash, its related varieties such as Raywood and Marshall Seedless, and a list of streets which have them is on pages 41-42 of Trees of Seattle, second edition (2006) by Arthur Lee Jacobson.
Trees of Seattle notes that Flame Ash trees extend from NE 84th to 137th Streets along 35th Ave NE. Two of the largest specimens are at least 70 feet tall, across the street from one another at the Meadowbrook Community Center on one side of 35th Ave NE and house 10532 on the other side.
A Green Ash variety called Marshall Seedless was planted as street trees on NE 125th Street beginning at 25th Ave NE in Lake City, west to the intersection of Roosevelt Way NE.
The City of Seattle encourages the planting of trees along public streets and has lists of recommended types of trees and guidelines to follow.
In cooperation with Plant Amnesty, SDOT has a Heritage Tree program to recognize trees of exceptional size, rarity and beauty. Wedgwood has a Heritage Tree which was designated in 2008, a 95-foot-tall Scarlet Oak on NE 77th Street at the corner of 38th Ave NE.
The Seattle reLeaf page has more info about the status of Seattle’s urban forest.
Every summer the Trees for Neighborhoods program takes applications from any City of Seattle resident who wants up to four free trees to plant in their yard. The purpose is to build the tree canopy in Seattle’s residential areas. Attendance at a planting workshop is required, and the trees must be picked up in October or November as that is the best time of year to plant young trees.
Stand tall. Go out on a limb. Remember your roots. Drink plenty of water. Enjoy the view.
(variations on “Advice from a Tree” by Ilan Shamir.)