Ash
(Fraxinus excelsior)
Compound
Pinnate
Opposite

compound leaf

Winter twig
Winter twig

tree and bark

flowers

fruits

distribution map

The leaves are opposite and made up of 9-13 hairless leaflets including a single one at the end. Each leaflet is 5-11 cm long, narrowed at the tip, with a toothed margin.

ID check

Ash is a deciduous tree with a single trunk up to 40 m in height, with a greenish-grey bark, deeply fissured with age. It is found very commonly in woods and hedgerows, especially on lime-rich and heavy soils.

The buds, in opposite pairs at the base of each leaf, are black.

Bunches of petalless male and female flowers grow on separate twigs on the same tree (monoecious) showing purple before the leaves appear in June.

The pale brown fruits or 'keys', which blow away in the wind, consist of a single seed surrounded by a wing.

Facts

  • Ash wood is white and tough and can be usd for oars, axe-handles, hockey-sticks, skis and many other 'implements'.

  • A weeping form with long drooping branches is much grown in gardens.

  • Before Christianity, ash was a sacred tree in Scandinavia - a symbol of the life-force.

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