I have an ash tree that was broke in a microburst. The stump is about 4" above ground and 5" in diameter. It spouted a leaf off the stump just before winter. I would like to know if it is still alive or dead. Is there a definitive way to tell in winter? My HOA wants a new tree planted but I would rather let this one regrow. Is there a way to tell or will I have to wait until spring to look for regrowth? Thanks for any help

Thanks for all the responses. I live in south dakota so hopefully it will show signs of life soon. My goal is to keep the HOA off my back. I plan on planting several more trees this year but I do not have time to do it by may 1st deadline. They require 3 trees that I had until this guy broke. I dont want to be rushed into planting new trees. I obviously made a poor choice on the ash trees. I need time to do more research and find a fast growing tree that will thrive in western south Dakota. The problem is the local green house recommend that I plant the ash tree's. So how do you choose a tree and who do you trust for advice if not the people who sell the trees. Thanks again.

  • 1
    No, you do not want this to 'regrow'. That live stuff is not going to be a tree anytime soon and it will not look at all like what your HOA thinks. HOA people need to be educated! YOU should be able to do this with this new information. It is kind of a sin to plant ash trees because of this borer. Or rather ash trees become a sacrificial plant. Find another tree that you could convince your HOA to accept as its new tree. Sunburst Honey Locust? Fast growth, little shade to hamper lawns and easy peasy to deal with leaves? Just one idea!
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:21

4 Answers 4


Where I live the emerald ash tree borer has killed thousands of ash trees. The city saws them off at the base and intends to come back to chip them later. In many cases the stump sends up shoots as the root system is still alive. This can happen within a month in the summer. During winter months you will have to wait till spring but it is almost certain that new growth will appear.

However the branches that bud off the base are water sprouts. Poorly attached they will never make a nice looking tree. Ash trees left to bud out like this look like an overgrown shrub. If you let them tall enough they would be even more likely to break in a storm then the original.

Given that a balled and burlapped eight to ten foot new tree should be less than $200 plus the cost to dig a hole I think your HOA is correct. You could even choose a more desirable species than an ash given the presence of the Emerald Ash Borer across most of Eastern and Central North America

  • Round here, they've started putting green bands around all the Ash trees. It's not going to be a holocaust like the Chestnuts, Hickories or Elms, but a lot of Ashes will soon be history. Best to move on now. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 12:30
  • Kevinsky! I've not seen you around lately, welcome back!! So very sad about the Ash trees.
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:16
  • @stormy Thanks! It is sad about the ashes but they are slow to leave out, quick to drop in the fall and split like broccoli under a chef knife in an ice storm. Good chance for the city and developers to replant with a better class of tree
    – kevinskio
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:40
  • Give him better ideas, Kevinsky. He can take it to his HOA...my honey locust was off the top of my head. Haven't seen many HOAs using them at all...and they have their problems. Broccoli under a chef knife...LOL!!
    – stormy
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:03

I cut often ashes near ground level, and they will regrow. Because they have a lot of roots, they will regrow quicker then planting a new tree, and without risk of fungi because of rotting roots (of old plant).

As far I know, ashes are pioneer plants: they grow quick and tall. Just, as you noticed, they are not the most robust (nor long-lived) ones.

  • Good point about not being able to remove all the roots. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 14:06

Trees have enormous amounts of energy stored in their roots. Most likely you'll see new growth emerge from the base side of the old trunk in the spring. Once new growth is evident, you can get the HOA off your back, but you'll have to wait for spring to be certain.


You do not state which type of Ash it is but here goes anyway. Fraxinus excelsior were a popular choice for coppicing in the UK (until Hymenoscyphus fraxineus came along). The shoots can regrow to form quite substantial new trunks, it might be best to allow only around 5 to regrow, to create a balanced multi-stem. You will never get a satisfactorily shaped single stem tree out of it again.

In more general terms, it is sometimes possible to tell if trees are alive in winter with a little investigative surgery. Cutting through the bark to the wood may reveal some green under the dead out layers of bark. If this is the case the tree is probably alive. A 5" diameter ash will probably still have smooth green-grey bark. Scraping with a fingernail may even reveal a brighter green which would indicate some life.

However, assuming you are in the Northern hemisphere it should not be that many weeks until to you find out whether it will regrow or not.

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