The Ash tree is also known by its Latin name, Fraxinus and it is part of the Oleaceae family and it originates in Britain, where it is the fourth most common tree.
There are a wide variety of different species of the tree and they grow across the world in places as diverse as North America, North Africa and various parts of Asia. Although the Ash tree is mainly deciduous, there are some sub-tropical varieties which are evergreen.
It is a flowering plant from the same family as olive and lilac plants. The Ash tree has silver-grey bark and the green flowers grow in small clusters. The seeds from these flowers are dispersed by the wind and Ash trees can live for up to 400 years, growing to around 45 metres.
While most trees’ branches are alternately positioned the Ash is slightly unusual in having its branches placed opposite each other. The wood under the bark is very light in colour, which is why it is very popular for making furniture or flooring.
The species is currently at risk from wood-boring beetles which are introduced to countries through insufficient checking on imported goods. American Ash trees are being threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer, which lays its eggs in the tree and the larvae then eat the bark from the tree.
Ash Tree Facts
The timber from Ash trees has many uses; historically it was used to make weapons, which is why the word ‘ash’ actually comes from an Anglo Saxon term for ‘spear’. Contemporary uses for the wood include sports equipment, tool handles, furniture and flooring because of the strength and durability of the wood as well as the attractive style.
Ash trees were widely known as ‘widow makers’, although there is contention over the reason for this name. It is possible that this came about because the timber was used to make weapons and consequently killed many people. Most people actually agree that it is more likely to be because the heavy branches would fall and kill anyone who was beneath them.
The tree also features in ancient folklore. It was said that a child with a broken limb, hernia or rickets could be cured by being passed through the split trunk of an Ash naked. Chinese medicine also makes use of Ash trees to remedy eye or stomach complaints and in Norse mythology the first man was reputedly made from an ash tree.