July 28, 2009
Your Plant Questions Answered
I’m Frank McDonough, botanical information consultant here at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. I get thousands of questions every year about plants, landscapes, and trees. I’ve started this blog to share with you some of the more interesting questions I receive every week, as well as news and information that has to do with your Southern California garden.
Lead and Ash Trees
Who do you recommend one contact about testing the Lead content of soil adjacent to the house I rent, which was built in 1923 or so, and had numerous coats of such paint. I garden vegetables/edibles intensely about eight feet away, but only container/pot garden within that distance. Is there any commercial value for ash trees? I have a huge ash tree that produces tons of seedlings.Is there an online plant keying taxonomy guide which I could use to ascertain which Fraxinus it is, pennsylvanica or what? Thanks,JeffHi Jeff, A local laboratory can do that testing for you, I wouldn’t worry, even if you have relatively high levels in your soil, lead translocation into plant tissue should not be a problem in our alkaline, calciferous soils (according to Inorganic lead exposure: metabolism and intoxication b y Nicoló Castellino, Pietro Castellino, Nicola … – 1994 – Science) this is because lead in the soil is not as mobile as in acid soils.And what about your ash seedlings? There is no commercial value to ash seedlings, unless you can sell them yourself; try Craig’s list. Personally I would not wish an Ash tree on my own worst enemy; their damaging roots and messy seed production are complimented by their production of copious amounts of allergy-producing pollen. To identify an ash tree to species I would use the Royal Horticultural Society’s Dictionary of Gardening. This is not a cheap set of books, so instead of purchasing them you can drop by our library and reference that same edition here. If you do, bring a sample of the tree’s leaves, seeds, and or flowers and stop by the plant information office. We’ll be more than happy to take a look at your tree and try to identify it.