Fraxinus /ˈfræksɪnəs/,[4] English name ash, is a genus of flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45–65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous, though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The genus is widespread across much of Europe, Asia, and North America.[3][5][6][7][8]

The tree's common English name, "ash", traces back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name originated in Latin. Both words also mean "spear" in their respective languages.[9] The leaves are opposite (rarely in whorls of three), and mostly pinnately compound, simple in a few species. The seeds, popularly known as "keys" or "helicopter seeds", are a type of fruit known as a samara. Most Fraxinus species are dioecious, having male and female flowers on separate plants[10] but gender in ash is expressed as a continuum between male and female individuals, dominated by unisexual trees. With age, ash may change their sexual function from predominantly male and hermaphrodite towards femaleness;[11] if grown as an ornamental and both sexes are present, ashes can cause a considerable litter problem with their seeds. Rowans or mountain ashes have leaves and buds superficially similar to those of true ashes, but belong to the unrelated genus Sorbus in the rose family.

Fraxinus ornus - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-062
Fraxinus ornus
1862 illustration[2]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Tribe: Oleeae
Subtribe: Fraxininae
Genus: Fraxinus
  • Ornus Boehm.
  • Fraxinoides Medik.
  • Mannaphorus Raf.
  • Calycomelia Kostel.
  • Leptalix Raf.
  • Ornanthes Raf.
  • Samarpses Raf.
  • Aplilia Raf.
  • Meliopsis Rchb.
  • Petlomelia Nieuwl.
Ash flower
European ash in flower
Narrow-leafed ash (Fraxinus angustifolia) shoot with leaves

Selected species

Species arranged into sections supported by phylogenetic analysis.[12][13]

Section Dipetalae
Section Fraxinus
Section Melioides sensu lato
  • Fraxinus chiisanensis
  • Fraxinus cuspidata Torr. – fragrant ash
  • Fraxinus platypoda
  • Fraxinus spaethiana Lingelsh. – Späth's ash
Section Melioides sensu stricto
Section Ornus
  • Fraxinus apertisquamifera
  • Fraxinus baroniana
  • Fraxinus bungeana DC. – Bunge's ash
  • Fraxinus chinensis Roxb. – Chinese ash or Korean ash
  • Fraxinus floribunda Wall. – Himalayan manna ash
  • Fraxinus griffithii C.B.Clarke – Griffith's ash
  • Fraxinus japonica – Japanese ash
  • Fraxinus lanuginosa – Japanese ash
  • Fraxinus longicuspis
  • Fraxinus malacophylla
  • Fraxinus micrantha Lingelsh.
  • Fraxinus ornus L. – manna ash or flowering ash
  • Fraxinus paxiana Lingelsh.
  • Fraxinus sieboldiana Blume – Japanese flowering ash
Section Pauciflorae
Section Sciadanthus

Closeup of European ash seeds

Fraxinus ornus JPG1b

Fraxinus ornus

Treelets on fallen Ash tree

Unusual "treelets" growing from a fallen ash tree in Lawthorn wood, Ayrshire, Scotland


North American native ash tree species are a critical food source for North American frogs, as their fallen leaves are particularly suitable for tadpoles to feed upon in ponds (both temporary and permanent), large puddles, and other water bodies.[16] Lack of tannins in the American ash makes their leaves a good food source for the frogs, but also reduces its resistance to the ash borer. Species with higher leaf tannin levels (including maples and non-native ash species) are taking the place of native ash, thanks to their greater resistance to the ash borer. They produce much less suitable food for the tadpoles, resulting in poor survival rates and small frog sizes.[16]

Ash species native to North America also provide important habit and food for various other creatures native to North America, such as a long-horn beetle, avian species, and mammalian species.[17][18][19][20]

Ash is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths).


Canker on Ash
Canker on an ash tree in North Ayrshire, Scotland

The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis, EAB) is a wood-boring beetle accidentally introduced to North America from eastern Asia via solid wood packing material in the late 1980s to early 1990s. It has killed tens of millions of trees in 22 states in the United States[21] and adjacent Ontario and Quebec in Canada. It threatens some seven billion ash trees in North America. Research is being conducted to determine if three native Asian wasps that are natural predators of EAB could be used as a biological control for the management of EAB populations in the United States. The public is being cautioned not to transport unfinished wood products, such as firewood, to slow the spread of this insect pest.[22]

The European ash, Fraxinus excelsior, has been affected by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, causing ash dieback[23] in a large number of trees since the mid-1990s, particularly in eastern and northern Europe.[24][25] The disease has infected about 90% of Denmark's ash trees.[26] At the end of October 2012 in the UK, the Food and Environment Research Agency reported that ash dieback had been discovered in mature woodland in Suffolk; previous occurrences had been on young trees imported from Europe.[27] In 2016, the ash tree was reported as in danger of extinction in Europe.[28]


Ash is a hardwood and is hard, dense (within 20% of 670 kg/m3 for Fraxinus americana,[29] and higher at 710 kg/m3 for Fraxinus excelsior[30]), tough and very strong but elastic, extensively used for making bows, tool handles, baseball bats, hurleys, and other uses demanding high strength and resilience.

Ash is a minor material for electric guitar bodies and, less commonly, for acoustic guitar bodies, known for its bright, cutting edge and sustaining quality. Some Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters are made of ash, (such as Bruce Springsteen's Telecaster on the Born to Run album cover), as an alternative to alder. They are also used for making drum shells.

Ash Table by Ben Barclay
Ash Coffee Table

Woodworkers generally consider Ash "poor cousin" to the other major open pore wood, oak, but it is useful in any furniture application. Ash veneers are extensively used in office furniture. Ash is not used much outdoors due to the heartwood having a low durability to ground contact, meaning it will typically perish within five years. The F. japonica species is favored as a material for making baseball bats by Japanese sporting-goods manufacturers. [31]

Its robust structure, good looks, and flexibility combine to make ash ideal for staircases. Ash stairs are extremely hard-wearing, which is particularly important for treads. Due to its elasticity, ash can also be steamed and bent to produce curved stair parts such as volutes (curled sections of handrail) and intricately shaped balusters. However, a reduction in the supply of healthy trees, especially in Europe, is making ash an increasingly expensive option.

Ash was commonly used for the structural members of the bodies of cars made by carriage builders. Early cars had frames which were intended to flex as part of the suspension system to simplify construction. The Morgan Motor Company of Great Britain still manufacture sports cars with frames made from ash. It was also widely used by early aviation pioneers for aircraft construction.

It lights and burns easily, so is used for starting fires and barbecues, and is usable for maintaining a fire, though it produces only a moderate heat. The two most economically important species for wood production are white ash, in eastern North America, and European ash in Europe. The green ash (F. pennsylvanica) is widely planted as a street tree in the United States. The inner bark of the blue ash (F. quadrangulata) has been used as a source for blue dye.

The leaves of ash are appreciated by cattle, goats, and rabbits. Cut off in the autumn, the branches can be a valuable winter supply for domestic animals.

Mythology and folklore

In Greek mythology, the Meliae were nymphs of the ash, perhaps specifically of the manna ash (Fraxinus ornus), as dryads were nymphs of the oak. They appear in Hesiod's Theogony.

The ash exudes a sugary substance that is suggested to have been fermented to create the Norse Mead of Inspiration.[32]

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasill was often seen as a giant ash tree. Many scholars now agree that in the past, an error had been made in the interpretation of the ancient writings, and that the tree is most likely a European yew (Taxus baccata). This mistake would find its origin in an alternative word for the yew tree in the Old Norse, namely needle ash (barraskr).[33] In addition, ancient sources, including the Eddas, write about a vetgrønster vida, which means "evergreen tree". An ash sheds its leaves in the winter, while yew trees retain their needles. The first man, Ask, was formed from the "ash tree".

Elsewhere in Europe, snakes were said to be repelled by ash leaves or a circle drawn by an ash branch. Irish folklore claims that shadows from an ash tree would damage crops. In Cheshire, ash was said to be used to cure warts and rickets. In Sussex, the ash tree and the elm tree were known as "widowmakers" because large boughs would often drop without warning.

See also


  1. ^ "Fraxinus L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 3 April 2006. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  2. ^ Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
  3. ^ a b "Fraxinus". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  4. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995, pp. 606–607
  5. ^ "Fraxinus". Altervista Flora Italiana. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Fraxinus Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1057. 1753". Flora of China. p. 273 – via 衿属 qin shu.
  7. ^ Philips, Roger (1979). Trees of North America and Europe: A Guide to Field Identification, Revised and Updated. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-50259-0. OCLC 4036251.
  8. ^ "Genus Fraxinus". US Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  9. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q., eds. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-884964-98-5.
  10. ^ "Monoecious and dioecious plants". Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  11. ^ Gender variation in ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) Pierre Binggeli & James Power (1991)
  12. ^ "Systematics of Fraxinus (Oleaceae) and evolution of dioecy" (PDF). Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  13. ^ Hinsinger, Damien Daniel; Basak, Jolly; Gaudeul, Myriam; Cruaud, Corinne; Bertolino, Paola; Frascaria-Lacoste, Nathalie; Bousquet, Jean (21 November 2013). "The Phylogeny and Biogeographic History of Ashes ( Fraxinus, Oleaceae) Highlight the Roles of Migration and Vicariance in the Diversification of Temperate Trees". PLOS ONE. 8 (11): e80431. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080431. PMC 3837005. PMID 24278282.
  14. ^ "Species Records of Fraxinus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Fraxinus L." ITIS Standard Reports. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  16. ^ a b Stephens, Jeffrey; Bervan, Keith; Tiegs, Scott (3 May 2013). "Anthropogenic changes to leaf litter input affect the fitness of a larval amphibian". Freshwater Biology. 58 (8): 1631–1646. doi:10.1111/fwb.12155.
  17. ^ "Black Ash". Illinois Wildflowers. Dr. John Hilty. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  18. ^ "White Ash". Illinois Wildflowers. Dr. John Hilty. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  19. ^ "Green Ash". Illinois Wildflowers. Dr. John Hilty. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Red Ash". Illinois Wildflowers. Dr. John Hilty. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  21. ^ Moy, Derek. "Emerald Ash Borer - About Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)".
  22. ^ "The Problem". Don't Move Firewood. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  23. ^ Kowalski T (2006) Chalara fraxinea sp. nov. associated with dieback of ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in Poland. Forest Pathology 36(4), 264-270
  24. ^ E. Halmschlager & T. Kirisits (2008). "First report of the ash dieback pathogen Chalara fraxinea on Fraxinus excelsior in Austria". New Disease Reports. 17: 20. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  25. ^ N. Ogris, T. Hauptman & D. Jurc (2009). "Chalara fraxinea causing common ash dieback newly reported in Slovenia". New Disease Reports. 19: 15. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  26. ^ "'Ash dieback' fungus Chalara fraxinea in UK countryside". BBC. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  27. ^ BBC News 'Ash dieback' fungus, Chalara fraxinea found in UK countryside. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  28. ^ Marshall, Claire (23 March 2016). "Ash tree set for extinction in Europe". BBC.
  29. ^ "White Ash". Niche Timbers. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  30. ^ "Ash". Niche Timbers. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  31. ^ "美津和タイガー/野球博物館/バットのできるまで".
  32. ^ Dumont, Darl J. (Summer 1992). "The Ash Tree In Indo-European Culture". Mankind Quarterly. 32 (4): 323–336.
  33. ^ Faulkes, Anthony. Prologue and Gylfagining (2005)

External links

British NVC community W8

NVC community W8 (Fraxinus excelsior - Acer campestre - Mercurialis perennis woodland) is one of the woodland communities in the British National Vegetation Classification system. It is one of the six communities falling in the "mixed deciduous and oak/birch woodlands" group.

This is a widely distributed community. There are seven subcommunities.

British NVC community W9

NVC community W9 (Fraxinus excelsior - Sorbus aucuparia - Mercurialis perennis woodland) is one of the woodland communities in the British National Vegetation Classification system. It is one of the six communities falling in the "mixed deciduous and oak/birch woodlands" group.

This is a community of northern and western Britain, particularly widespread in Scotland and Wales. There are two subcommunities.

Fraxinus albicans

Fraxinus albicans, commonly called the Texas ash, is a species of tree in the olive family (Oleaceae). It is native to North America, where it is found from eastern Texas and southern Oklahoma in the United States, to the state of Durango in Mexico. Its natural habitat is in dry, rocky slopes, often over limestone.

Fraxinus americana

Fraxinus americana, the white ash or American ash, is a species of ash tree native to eastern and central North America. It is found in mesophytic hardwood forests from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota, south to northern Florida, and southwest to eastern Texas. Isolated populations have also been found in western Texas, Wyoming, and Colorado, and the species is reportedly naturalized in Hawaii.There are an estimated 8 billion ash trees – the majority being the white ash trees and the green ash trees.

Fraxinus angustifolia

Fraxinus angustifolia, the narrow-leafed ash, is a species of Fraxinus native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia.

Fraxinus anomala

Fraxinus anomala is a species of ash tree known by the common name single-leaf ash. It is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, where it grows in a number of habitats including desert scrub and chaparral. It is unusual in the genus in that some (though not all) specimens have simple leaves instead of the pinnate leaves more characteristic of the group.

Fraxinus caroliniana

Fraxinus caroliniana, the pop ash, Florida ash, swamp ash, Carolina ash, or water ash, is a species of ash tree native from Cuba through the subtropical southeastern United States from southern Virginia to Texas. It was originally described by the botanist Philip Miller. It is a small tree about 40 ft. Leaves are compound, opposite, 7–12 in long, leaflets 5–7 in, ovate to oblong, coarsely serrate or entire, 3–6 in long, 2–3 in wide. Fruit is frequently 3-winged (samara) with flat seed portion; seed sometimes a bright violet color. It is the smallest of eastern North American ash species, wood light, soft, weak, 22 lbs./cu.ft. Typical to coastal swamps and subtropical lowlands.

Fraxinus excelsior

Fraxinus excelsior, known as the ash, or European ash or common ash to distinguish it from other types of ash, is a flowering plant species in the olive family Oleaceae. It is native throughout mainland Europe east to the Caucasus and Alborz mountains. The northernmost location is in the Trondheimsfjord region of Norway. The species is widely cultivated and reportedly naturalised in New Zealand and in scattered locales in the United States and Canada.

Fraxinus lanuginosa

Fraxinus lanuginosa (Japanese ash; Japanese: アオダモ Aodamo) is a species of ash native to Japan and to the Primorye region of eastern Russia.Fraxinus lanuginosais a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 10–15 m tall with a trunk up to 50 cm diameter. The bark is smooth, dark grey. The buds are pale pinkish-brown to grey-brown, with a dense covering of short grey hairs. The leaves are in opposite pairs, pinnate, 10–15 cm long, with 3-7 leaflets; the leaflets are broad ovoid, 4–7 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, downy at the base on the underside, with a finely serrated margin, and short indistinct petiolules. The flowers are produced in panicles after the new leaves appear in late spring, each flower with four slender creamy white petals 5–7 mm long; they are pollinated by insects. The fruit is a slender samara 2–4 cm long and 3–5 mm broad, reddish, ripening brown.In the population of F. lanuginosa native to central Hokkaidō, northern Japan, "hermaphrodites and males commonly coexist in populations of the species. Hermaphrodites and males have identical flowering phenologies and pollen morphologies".It is closely related to Fraxinus ornus from Europe and southwest Asia, sharing similar flower characters.

Fraxinus latifolia

Fraxinus latifolia, the Oregon ash, is a member of the ash genus Fraxinus, native to western North America.

Fraxinus mandschurica

Fraxinus mandshurica, the Manchurian ash, is a species of Fraxinus native to northeastern Asia in northern China (Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Jilin, Liaoning, Shaanxi, Shanxi), Korea, Japan and southeastern Russia (Sakhalin Island).It is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree reaching 30 m tall, with a trunk up to 50 cm in diameter. The leaves are 25–40 cm long, pinnate compound, with 7–13 leaflets, the leaflets 5–20 cm long and 2–5 cm broad, subsessile on the leaf rachis, and with a serrated margin. They turn to a golden-yellow in early autumn, and the tree is usually early to change color. The flowers are produced in early spring, before the new leaves, in compact panicles; they are inconspicuous with no petals, and are wind-pollinated. The fruit is a samara comprising a single seed 1–2 cm long with an elongated apical wing 2.5–4 cm long and 5–7 mm broad.It is closely related to Fraxinus nigra (Black Ash) from eastern North America, and has been treated as a subspecies or variety of it by some authors, as F. nigra subsp. mandschurica (Rupr.) S.S.Sun, or F. nigra var. mandschurica (Rupr.) Lingelsheim.The spelling of the species name is disputed; some (e.g. the Flora of China) cite mandschurica, while others (e.g. USDA GRIN) cite mandshurica. The original 1857 Russian publication spelled it without the "c".

Fraxinus nigra

Fraxinus nigra, the black ash, is a species of ash native to much of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, from western Newfoundland west to southeastern Manitoba, and south to Illinois and northern Virginia. Formerly abundant, as of 2014 the species is threatened with near total extirpation throughout its range, as a result of infestation by a parasitic insect known as the emerald ash borer.

Fraxinus ornus

Fraxinus ornus, the manna ash or South European flowering ash, is a species of Fraxinus native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia, from Spain and Italy north to Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic, and east through the Balkans, Turkey, and western Syria to Lebanon and Armenia.

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Fraxinus pennsylvanica, the green ash or red ash, is a species of ash native to eastern and central North America, from Nova Scotia west to southeastern Alberta and eastern Colorado, south to northern Florida, and southwest to Oklahoma and eastern Texas. It has spread and become naturalized in much of the western United States and also in Europe from Spain to Russia.Other names more rarely used include downy ash, swamp ash and water ash.

Fraxinus profunda

Fraxinus profunda, the pumpkin ash, is a species of Fraxinus (ash) native to eastern North America, primarily in the United States, with a scattered distribution on the Atlantic coastal plain and interior lowland river valleys from southern Maryland northwest to Indiana, southeast to northern Florida, and southwest to southeastern Missouri to Louisiana, and also locally in the extreme south of Canada in Essex County, Ontario.While normally a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 12–30 m tall with a trunk up to 1 m diameter, the tree can reach 50 m tall with a 4.7 m diameter trunk. The bark is gray, thick and fissured. The winter buds are dark brown to blackish, with a velvety texture. The leaves are opposite, pinnate, with 7–9 leaflets; each leaf is 25–40 cm long, the leaflets 8–20 cm long and 5–8 cm broad, with a finely toothed margin; they are downy on the underside and along the rachis. The leaflets are stalked, with a short petiolule. The flowers are produced in panicles in spring shortly before the new leaves; they are inconspicuous purplish-green with no petals, and are wind-pollinated. The fruit is a samara; it is the largest of any North American ash species, 5–8 cm long, comprising a single seed with an elongated apical wing 9 mm broad.

Fraxinus quadrangulata

Fraxinus quadrangulata, the blue ash, is a species of ash native primarily to the Midwestern United States from Oklahoma to Michigan, as well as the Bluegrass region of Kentucky and the Nashville Basin region of Tennessee. Isolated populations exist in Alabama, Southern Ontario, and small sections of the Appalachian Mountains. It is typically found over calcareous substrates such as limestone, growing on limestone slopes and in moist valley soils, at elevations of 120–600 m.

Fraxinus velutina

Fraxinus velutina, the velvet ash, Arizona ash or Modesto ash, is a species of Fraxinus native to southwestern North America, in the United States from southern California east to Texas, and in Mexico from northern Baja California east to Coahuila and Nuevo León.

List of woods

This is a list of woods, in particular those most commonly used in the timber and lumber trade.

Samara (fruit)

A samara (, UK also: ) is a winged achene, a type of fruit in which a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue develops from the ovary wall. A samara is a simple dry fruit and indehiscent (not opening along a seam). The shape of a samara enables the wind to carry the seed farther away than regular seeds from the parent tree, and is thus a form of anemochory.

In some cases the seed is in the centre of the wing, as in the elms (genus Ulmus), the hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata), and the bushwillows (genus Combretum).

In other cases the seed is on one side, with the wing extending to the other side, making the seed autorotate as it falls, as in the maples (genus Acer) and ash trees (genus Fraxinus).A samara is sometimes called a key and is often referred to as a wingnut, helicopter or whirlybird, whirligig, polynose, or, in the north of England, a spinning jenny. During the autumn months, they are a popular source of amusement for children who enjoy tossing them in the air and watching them spin to the ground.

Some species that normally produce paired samaras, such as Acer pseudoplatanus, also produce them in groups of 3 or 4.

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