Ash Trees Facts and Information
- Latin name: Fraxinus excelsior
- Native words: Old Irish (nin) Scots Gaelic (fuinseann) Old English (aesc) Welsh (onnen) eastern Celtic ()
- Ogham sign: N
- Height when mature: 30-40m
- Height after 10 years: 4m 13 ft
Ash Tree botanical description:
Ash is our tallest native deciduous trees when fully mature and you might be surprised to know that it actually makes up a part of the Olive tree family.
Like the Sycamore, it drops winged seed pods called ‘ash keys’ in autumn, which contain the seeds. Ash keys hang in great bunches from autumn onwards often remaining right through winter.
Ash Trees come into leaf much later than any other trees in the UK. You won't usually see the leaves appear until after April, this is closely followed by purple clusters of flowers that appear in early May. Ash leaves are made up of many opposing leaflets, which lie along a midrib; the whole leaf is on a stalk. The old saying “oak before ash we will have a splash - ash before oak we will have a soak”, which refers to the leaf burst, is not true!
The trunk of the Ash Tree is olive green in colour and smooth when young, then, as the tree matures the bark becomes ridged. The branches, which have a greenish grey colour, often fall leaving holes, which are occupied by nesting birds. The branches have a tendency to incline downwards before rising up near their end.
Ash Tree natural history and ancient wisdom:
Most people know ash trees from hedgerows, where with oak, it is the main mature native tree.
Ash trees are excellent ‘pioneers’ and they will often be the second native tree to colonise unwooded areas, following hawthorn.
Over the past century, ash has increased in the UK and is slowly taking over ancient woods. This is probably due to 3 factors. Firstly, the cessation of coppicing, which prevented many ashes invading hazel coppices and reaching maturity. Secondly, the large areas of post industrial brown field sites in Britain have been successfully colonised by ash trees. It has also quickly filled the gap left in hedgerows by elm in the wake of Dutch Elm Disease, which struck in the late 1970s.
Ash is the original ‘lightning tree’ and mature ash are regularly split in half by strikes, yet continue to grow. Ash trees thrive in limestone areas, and small remnant areas in the White Peak (Derbyshire) suggest the whole area was covered with ancient ash forest at one time. Other places to see ancient ash woods include on the limestone pavement of the Kent estuary and the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The most northerly ash wood is at Rassal in Wester Ross, northern Scotland.
Ash is a very hard wood and is still used for tool handles of all kinds; snooker cues, oars, cartwheels etc. Its strength probably led to its adoption in folklore as a representation of masculinity. The Norse tree of life, Yggdrasil, whose crown was in heaven and roots in hell was giant ash. Norse mythology also records that the first man was made from ash. This masculine reference appears in later English folklore.
Girls would tie a bundle of twigs with strips of ash (one each) and throw them into the fire. According to how the strips gave way, the girls knew when they would be married. Celtic peoples refused to cut ash lest their house is consumed by fire.
In Irish legend, famous ash trees included the Tree of Uisnech, the Tree of Tortu and the Bough of Dathi.
The juice of the branches contains the effective element of quinine and was used as a cure-all. The strength of the tree could be transferred to a sick child by passing the youth through a cleft trunk 3 times.
Nicholas Culpeper the famous herbalist recommended eating ash seeds because: “the kernels within the husks commonly called ashen keys…prevaileth against stitches and pains in the side”.
Ash Tree place names in the UK:
- Ashurst (Hampshire)
- Ashley (Cheshire)
- Ashwell (Herts)
- Ashford (Kent)
- Askrigg (Yorkshire)
- Ashdown Forest (Sussex).
Ash Tree wildlife rating:
The holes left by fallen branches are perfect for nuthatches and woodpeckers to nest in.
Ash keys are a good source of food for the rarely seen bullfinch.
Many insects live in the fissured trunk and bats will enter splits in the bark to roost.
Ash Tree Good Points:
- Excellent for filling gaps in hedgerows or native woodland, as they survive well.
Ash Tree Bad Points:
- Very demanding of the soil.
- The roots spread rapidly and powerfully and can undermine nearby buildings.
- Only suitable for large gardens or landscapes.
Want to Buy an Ash Tree?
Tree2mydoor is an award-winning gifts company that has been supplying trees as gifts for over 15 years now.
The government placed a ban on transporting Ash Trees back in 2012 due to the dieback caused by a fungus that grows on the tree. Read more about the ash dieback Chalara fraxinea epidemic here.
Due to this ban, we have been unable to send out the popular ash tree saplings as gifts. If you were considering buying an ash tree then we have a couple of other trees are very similar and just as popular.
The Rowan Tree Gift is also commonly known as a mountain ash tree due to it's similarities to the ash such as the shape of its leaves. It's a much smaller tree making it much better to have in the garden and it is also said to have many protective qualities too.
However, for simple size and stature, we would recommend our Oak Tree Gift. This will grow just as large as the ash tree but is a slower growing variety meaning it can be enjoyed in a pot in the garden for many years before having to be planted out into a more appropriate location.
If you are looking to order a large number of saplings for corporate promotion or project then please don't hesitate to get in touch. Drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to organise something for you.