Replacement Options for Ash Trees

bald cypress allee at Reiman Gardens outside in summer with two large rows of trees

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an exotic destructive pest that kills all native ash trees (Fraxinus). The urban tree canopy is significantly impacted by the loss of ash trees. It has recently been found in Story County and while treatment options are available, they are expensive and most homeowners will likely need to replace there wonderful shade tree.

In your yard and neighborhood be sure no more than 10% of the trees are the same species, no more than 20% are the same genus and no more than 30% are in the same family. If you have to remove an ash tree affected by EAB, consider one of the following species as a replacement.

  • Kentucky coffee tree – Gymnocladus dioicus – Zones 3-8, Fabaceae
  • bald cypress – Taxodium distichum – Zones 4-9, Cupressaceae
  • swamp white oak* – Quercus bicolor – Zones 3-8, Fagaceae
  • ginkgo – Ginkgo biloba – Zones 3-8, Ginkgoaceae
  • hackberry – Celtis occidentalis – Zones 2-9, Cannabaceae
  • thornless honeylocust – Gleditsia triacanthos inermis – Zones 3-8, Fabaceae
  • American elm (DED resistant cvs) – Ulmus – Zones (4)5-8, Ulmaceae
  • miyabe maple* – Acer miyabei – Zones 4-8, Sapindaceae
  • basswood – Tilia americana – Zones 2-8, Malvaceae
  • northern catalpa – Catalpa speciosa – Zones 4-8, Bignoniaceae
  • tulip poplar – Liriodendron tulipifera – Zones 4-9, Magnoliaceae
  • American sycamore – Platanus occidentalis – Zones 4-9, Platanaceae
  • dawn redwood – Metasequoia glyptostroboides – Zones 5-8, Cupressaceae
  • amur corktree – Phellodendron amurense – Zones 3-7, Rutaceae
  • black gum – Nyssa sylvatica – Zones 4-9, Cornaceae
  • chinkapin oak* – Quercus muehlenbergii – Zones 5-7, Fagaceae
  • shingle oak* – Quercus imbricaria – Zones 4-8, Fagaceae
  • red oak* – Quercus rubra – Zones 3-7, Fagaceae
  • sugar maple* – Acer saccharum – Zones 4-8, Sapindaceae
  • red maple* – Acer rubrum – Zones 3-9, Sapindaceae

Those asterisks above are to remind you that while these are good trees for most of Iowa, Maple and Oak tend to be already over-represented in residential neighborhoods. These trees may not give you the diversity that is needed.

Visit to learn more about the Sentinel Plant Network.

Become a certified “First Detector” of high consequence plant pests, such as EAB, and learn about current and potential plant insects and diseases and what you can do to help.

Learn more about EAB at

Prepared by Aaron Steil, Assistant Director

Photo caption: bald cypress Taxodium distichum