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Encyclopedia > Ash (tree)

Closeup of European Ash seeds
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Fraxinus

Many, see text.

An ash can be any of three different tree genera from three very distinct families (see end of page for disambiguation), but originally and most commonly refers to trees of the genus Fraxinus in the olive family Oleaceae. The ashes are usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The leaves are opposite (rarely in whorls of three), and mostly pinnately-compound, simple in a few species. The seeds, popularly known as keys, are a type of fruit known as a samara.



Ashes of eastern North America

  • Fraxinus americana White Ash
  • Fraxinus caroliniana Water Ash
  • Fraxinus nigra Black Ash
  • Fraxinus pennsylvanica Green Ash (also includes Red Ash)
  • Fraxinus profunda (syn. F. tomentosa) Pumpkin Ash
  • Fraxinus quadrangulata Blue Ash

Ashes of western and southwestern North America

  • Fraxinus anomala Single-leaf Ash
  • Fraxinus cuspidata Fragrant Ash
  • Fraxinus dipetala Two-petal Ash
  • Fraxinus dubia
  • Fraxinus gooddingii Goodding's Ash
  • Fraxinus greggii Gregg's Ash
  • Fraxinus latifolia Oregon Ash
  • Fraxinus papillosa Chihuahua Ash
  • Fraxinus purpusii
  • Fraxinus rufescens
  • Fraxinus texensis Mountain Ash or Texas Ash
  • Fraxinus uhdei Shamel Ash
  • Fraxinus velutina Velvet Ash

Ashes of the Western Palearctic (Europe, north Africa and southwest Asia)

Narrow-leafed Ash Fraxinus angustifolia shoot with leaves
  • Fraxinus angustifolia Narrow-leafed Ash
    • Fraxinus angustifolia var. oxycarpa (F. oxycarpa) Caucasian Ash
  • Fraxinus excelsior European Ash
  • Fraxinus holotricha
  • Fraxinus ornus Manna Ash or Flowering Ash
  • Fraxinus pallisiae Pallis' Ash

Ashes of the Eastern Palearctic (central & eastern Asia)

  • Fraxinus apertisquamifera
  • Fraxinus baroniana
  • Fraxinus bungeana Bunge's Ash
  • Fraxinus chinensis Chinese Ash or Korean Ash
  • Fraxinus chiisanensis
  • Fraxinus floribunda Himalayan Manna Ash
  • Fraxinus griffithii Griffith's Ash
  • Fraxinus hubeiensis
  • Fraxinus lanuginosa
  • Fraxinus longicuspis Japanese Ash
  • Fraxinus malacophylla
  • Fraxinus mandshurica Manchurian Ash
  • Fraxinus mariesii Chinese Flowering Ash
  • Fraxinus micrantha
  • Fraxinus paxiana
  • Fraxinus platypoda
  • Fraxinus raibocarpa
  • Fraxinus sieboldiana Japanese Flowering Ash
  • Fraxinus spaethiana Sp th's Ash
  • Fraxinus trifoliata
  • Fraxinus xanthoxyloides Afghan Ash


The wood is hard, tough and very strong but elastic, extensively used for tool handles, quality wooden baseball bats, hurleys and other uses demanding high strength and resilience. It also makes excellent firewood. The two most economically important species for wood production are White Ash in eastern North America, and European Ash in Europe. The Green Ash is widely planted as a street tree in the United States. The inner bark of the Blue Ash has been used as a source for a blue dye.

Cultural aspects

In Norse mythology, the World Tree Yggdrasil is commonly held to be an ash tree, and the first man, Ask, was formed from an ash tree (the first woman was made from alder). 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 damage crops. In Cheshire, it is said that ash could be used to cure warts or rickets.

In Greek mythology, the Meliai were nymphs of the ash, perhaps specifically of the Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus), as dryads were nymphs of the oak. Many echoes of archaic Hellene rites and myth involve ash trees.

Other name uses (disambiguation)

In North America, the name ash is also given to species of Sorbus, more accurately known as Rowans and Whitebeams. In Australia, many common eucalyptus species are called ash because they too produce hard, fine-grained timber. The best known of these is the Mountain Ash, the tallest broadleaf tree in the world.


The emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis, a wood-boring beetle introduced from eastern Asia accidentally with ash wood products in about 1998, threatens some 7 billion ash trees in the United States.

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Ash Tree (1913 words)
There are frequent allusions to the Ash throughout European literature, since its tough saplings were naturally chosen by both Greeks and Romans for their spears, whilst the agricultural writers of the latter nation recommend its wood for agricultural implements, a use to which it is still largely applied.
The Ash attains a height of from thirty to fifty, or even from seventy to ninety feet, with a girth commonly of five or six, but in exceptional instances of as much as twenty feet.
Few trees are less particular as to soil than the Ash; but perhaps the sugar which in warmer latitudes exudes as "manna" from allied species produces in the North that greater luxuriance of growth which gives us the tree in its highest beauty.
Ash Tree Publishing Terms Letter and Distributors Information (557 words)
Banyan Tree Book Distributors Contact: Susan Vanderheiden 08 8363 4244
Some years, Ashtree might save as many as 116 mature trees as a result of printing our books on this paper
Look for the logo on copyright pages and urge your favorite bookseller to sell books on paper that doesn't come from endangered forests.
  More results at FactBites »



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