This ash grows in moist rich soils on hillsides and in river valleys over a wide range which extends from western China to Korea and the Russian Far East. The provenances grown in Finland are from the north-east parts of this range and there are two distinct forms: var. rhynchophylla has leaflets which are oval and come to a point, like most ashes; and var. densata, whose leaflets are large and broad, almost round, with a sandpapery rough surface.
In the wild the species can reach heights of 20 metres under good conditions but usually remains smaller. To reach full stature it needs sunshine and deep rich soil that retains some moisture.
Fraxinus rhynchophylla is one of the last of the ashes to break leaf in spring, usually avoiding the late frost damage that affects so many other ash species. Autumn colour comes early, which is a further indication of its suitability to the Finnish climate and brief growing season. Autumn colour varies between provenances and individuals from a dull orange-brown to a brilliant wine-red.