Identify Ash

ASH / SPRING / SUMMER / EDIBLE

COMMON NAMES
Ash, Common Ash, European Ash.

BOTANICAL NAME
Fraxinus excelsior.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS               
Stems – Light grey bark, that fissures with age, the stems are smooth with distinctive black buds, which are arranged in opposite pairs.   

Leaves -Large compound leaves, up to 40 cm long, that are divided into four or eight pairs of lance-shaped leaflets with sharply toothed margins. The leaves can move in the direction of sunlight, and sometimes the whole crown of the tree may lean in the direction of the sun. Ash leaves also fall when they are still green.                 

Flowers – Black flower buds are followed by clusters of greenish-white or purplish flowers. Seeds – Once the female flowers have been pollinated the seeds develop. The seeds or keys have a long wing. They are green when fresh and turn brown with age.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION
Kingdom
– Plantae

Order – Lamiales

Family – OleaceaeGenus – Fraxinus

KNOWN HAZARDS
None known. 

COULD BE CONFUSED WITH 
Rowan or elder but elder has fewer leaflets and rowan’s leaves are serrated.

HABITAT
One of the most common trees in the UK. Found almost everywhere currently suffering from Ash dieback disease which causes brittleness and death.

EDIBLE USES
The seeds have a distinctive spicy taste similar to black cardamom and go great with rice dishes. They are eaten as a pickle in Europe and Asia.

The shoots can be eaten when young and can be eaten raw or steamed.

The sap of the tree can be collected in spring and is commonly used to make ash wine.

Ash is considered to be a healing tree and although its use in modern medicine has fallen it was once believed to be a cure for snake bites and leprosy amongst many other ailments.

Ash was the choice wood for spear and axe hafts as well as for farming and garden tools due to its dry and strong wood!

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