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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The ash flowers in April and May (2). The male flowers do not release pollen until after the styles of the female flowers belonging to the same tree have ceased to be receptive; this helps to avoid self-fertilisation (3). Ashes grow at an extremely fast rate until 50 years of age; after this point they cease to increase in height. They first begin to produce flowers and seeds after they reach 30 years of age (3). Ash wood is valued for its fast growth, strength and elasticity; it has been put to a wide range of uses and is still used to make hockey sticks, billiard cues and oars, as well as walking sticks, for its ability to withstand shock. The ancient technique of coppicing extends the life of the tree; in Suffolk a coppiced ash is estimated to be at least 1,000 years old (5). Scandinavian mythology holds that the ash was the 'tree of life'; it was believed to have healing powers in Britain, and was widely regarded as a source of magic and mystery. Unfortunately, the mysterious aura of the ash has declined in modern times; it is now commonly viewed as a 'weed tree' due to its rapid colonisation of new areas and fast growth (5).
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Description

The ash is one of our tallest native trees. It has a fairly open crown, becoming oval or spherical in shape as it ages (3). The bark is greyish in colour and smooth, becoming fissured as it grows old. This tree is easy to identify in winter by the black buds, which occur in pairs (4). The tiny purple flowers appear before the leaves and occur in male and female clusters (4), they do not have petals or sepals (3). Ash is one of the last trees to produce leaves in spring; the compound leaves are pinnate, with 7-13 toothed oval-shaped leaflets (4). The elongate, winged fruits hang in clusters, they are initially green in colour, but eventually become brown (3).
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Range

The ash is common throughout Britain and most of the rest of Europe (2).
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Ecology

Habitat

The ash develops its impressive crown when it grows in damp soil rich in minerals. Main habitats include riverbanks, meadow and valley woodlands, and deciduous woodlands (3).
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Associations

Plant / associate
Abdera biflexuosa is associated with Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / gall
Aceria fraxinivora causes gall of inflorescence of Fraxinus excelsior

Plant / associate
Anisoxya fuscula is associated with Fraxinus excelsior

Plant / associate
Anthocoris gallarum-ulmi is associated with aphid-galled leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Plant / associate
Anthocoris simulans is associated with Fraxinus excelsior
Other: major host/prey

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / pathogen
Armillaria mellea s.l. infects and damages Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / miner
larva of Aulagromyza heringii mines leaf of Fraxinus excelsior
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Auricularia auricula-judae is saprobic on wood of Fraxinus excelsior
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / associate
Biphyllus lunatus is associated with dead branch of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / feeds on
Botryodiplodia coelomycetous anamorph of Botryodiplodia fraxini feeds on Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Callistosporium luteo-olivaceum is saprobic on dead wood of Fraxinus excelsior
Remarks: Other: uncertain

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, gregarious perithecium of Ceriospora caudae-suis is saprobic on submerged, decorticate branch (small) of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / sap sucker
Chionaspis salicis sucks sap of live stem of Fraxinus excelsior

Plant / associate
Corticeus bicolor is associated with Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
caterpillar of Cossus cossus feeds within live trunk of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, immersed, minute, pallid, mostly unilocular stroma of Cytosporina coelomycetous anamorph of Cytosporina millepunctata is saprobic on dead, fallen branch of Fraxinus excelsior
Remarks: season: 11

Foodplant / gall
larva of Dasineura acrophila causes gall of leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / gall
larva of Dasineura fraxinea causes gall of leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / gall
larva of Dasineura fraxini causes gall of leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, erumpent pycnidium of Phomopsis coelomycetous anamorph of Diaporthe samaricola is saprobic on fallen samara (seed end) of Fraxinus excelsior
Remarks: season: 10-5

Foodplant / saprobe
often clustered conidioma of Phomopsis coelomycetous anamorph of Diaporthe scobina is saprobic on dead petiole of Fraxinus excelsior
Remarks: season: 3-9

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Dorcus parallelipipedus feeds within dead or rotten wood of Fraxinus excelsior
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Dryocoetinus alni feeds within cambium of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Dryocoetinus villosus feeds within cambium of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Henningsomyces candidus is saprobic on decayed wood of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / pathogen
fruitbody of Heterobasidion annosum infects and damages live root of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Hylastes opacus feeds within cambium of Fraxinus excelsior
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Hylesinus crenatus feeds within cambium of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Hylesinus oleiperda feeds within cambium of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Inonotus hispidus is saprobic on dead trunk of Fraxinus excelsior
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Leperisinus orni feeds within cambium of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Leperisinus varius feeds within cambium of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Limoniscus violaceus feeds within wood of Fraxinus excelsior

Plant / associate
Lytta vesicatoria is associated with Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / saprobe
gregarious pycnidium of Macrophoma coelomycetous anamorph of Macrophoma fraxini is saprobic on dead, fallen twig of Fraxinus excelsior
Remarks: season: 2-5

Foodplant / open feeder
nocturnal larva of Macrophya punctumalbum grazes on leaf of Fraxinus excelsior
Other: major host/prey

Plant / associate
mycelial muff of tree of Morchella esculenta is associated with live root of Fraxinus excelsior
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / spot causer
hypophyllous, minute, numerous, aggregated, semi-immersed, black pycnidium of Septoria coelomycetous anamorph of Mycosphaerella fraxini causes spots on live leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / sap sucker
Orthotylus nassatus sucks sap of Fraxinus excelsior
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / associate
nymph of Orthotylus tenellus is associated with Fraxinus excelsior
Other: major host/prey

Plant / associate
Paromalus flavicornis is associated with under bark of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / saprobe
resupinate fruitbody of Peniophora cinerea is saprobic on dead wood of Fraxinus excelsior
Other: major host/prey

Plant / associate
Phloiotrya vaudoueri is associated with Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / parasite
Phyllactinia fraxini parasitises live leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous Phyllactinia guttata parasitises live leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / spot causer
pycnidium of Phyllosticta coelomycetous anamorph of Phyllosticta fraxinicola causes spots on live leaf of Fraxinus excelsior
Remarks: season: 7-9

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Platypus cylindrus feeds within wood of Fraxinus excelsior

Plant / associate
Platyrhinus resinosus is associated with Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Prionychus ater feeds within decaying wood of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / gall
Prociphilus bumeliae causes gall of leaf (petiole) of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / sap sucker
nymph of Psallus flavellus sucks sap of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / sap sucker
nymph of Psallus lepidus sucks sap of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / feeds on
Pseudoloxops coccineus feeds on Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / gall
Pseudomonas syringae ssp savastanoi pv. fraxini causes gall of live, cankered trunk of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / gall
Psyllopsis fraxini causes gall of leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / feeds on
Ptelobius vittatus feeds on Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Rhagium mordax feeds within rotting stump (cambium and outer sapwood) of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Sinodendron cylindricum feeds within dead or rotten wood of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
underground larva of Stenocorus meridianus feeds within dead root of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Tetrops starkii feeds within dead branch of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Tomostethus nigritus grazes on leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Plant / epiphyte
colony of Trentepohlia abietina grows on bark of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, stromatic, in group of 3 to 8 perithecium of Valsa cypri is saprobic on dead branch (cortex) of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / gall
Vasates epiphyllus causes gall of leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / gall
Vasates fraxini causes gall of leaf of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / hemiparasite
haustorium of Viscum album is hemiparasitic on branch of Fraxinus excelsior

Foodplant / internal feeder
caterpillar of Zeuzera pyrina feeds within live bud of Fraxinus excelsior

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Fraxinus excelsior

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Fraxinus excelsior

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 16
Specimens with Barcodes: 62
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Status

Widespread and common (2).
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Threats

This tree is not threatened.
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Management

Conservation

As this species is common and widespread, conservation action is not necessary.
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Wikipedia

Fraxinus excelsior

Fraxinus excelsior — known as the ash, or European ash or common ash to distinguish it from other types of ash — is a species of Fraxinus native to most of Europe from Spain to Russia, with the exception of northern Scandinavia and southern Iberia. It is also considered native in southwestern Asia from northern Turkey east to the Caucasus and Alborz mountains. The northernmost location is in the Trondheimsfjord region of Norway.[1][2] The species is widely cultivated and reportedly naturalized in New Zealand and in scattered locales in the United States and Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ontario, Ohio, Kentucky and British Columbia).[3][4][5]

Description[edit]

Male flowers
Seeds of fraxinus excelsior, popularly known as "keys" or "helicopter seeds", are a type of fruit known as a samara

It is a large deciduous tree growing to 20–35 m (exceptionally to 46 m) tall with a trunk up to 2 m (exceptionally to 3.5 m) diameter, with a tall, domed crown. The bark is smooth and pale grey on young trees, becoming thick and vertically fissured on old trees. The shoots are stout, greenish-grey, with jet black buds (which distinguish it from most other ash species, which have grey or brown buds). The leaves are 20–35 cm long, pinnate compound, with 7-13 leaflets, the leaflets 3–12 cm long and 0.8–3 cm broad, sessile on the leaf rachis, and with a serrated margin. The leaves are often among the last to open in spring, and the first to fall in autumn if an early frost strikes; they have no marked autumn colour, often falling dull green. The flowers open before the leaves, the female flowers being somewhat longer than the male flowers; they are dark purple, and without petals, and are wind-pollinated. Both male and female flowers can occur on the same tree, but it is more common to find all male and all female trees; a tree that is all male one year can produce female flowers the next, and similarly a female tree can become male. The fruit is a samara 2.5-4.5 cm long and 5–8 mm broad, often hanging in bunches through the winter; they are often called 'ash keys'.[1][6][7] If the fruit is gathered and planted when it is still green and not fully ripe, it will germinate straight away, however once the fruit is brown and fully ripe, it will not germinate until 18 months after sowing (i.e. not until two winters have passed).[8]

European Ash rarely exceeds 250 years of age. However there are numerous specimens estimated between 200 and 250 years old and there are a few over 250. The largest is in Clapton Court, England and is 9 m (29 ft) in girth. There are several examples over 4.5 metres (15 feet) in Derbyshire alone.

Ecology[edit]

Ash occurs on a wide range of soil types, but is particularly associated with basic soils on calcareous substrates. The most northerly ashwood in Britain is on limestone at Rassal, Wester Ross, latitude 57.4278 N.

A number of Lepidoptera use the species as a food source. See Lepidoptera which feed on ashes. In the UK, many other invertebrates have also been found to feed on Ash.[9]

Genome[edit]

The genome of Fraxinus excelsior is being sequenced by two groups of scientists in the United Kingdom. A group at Queen Mary University of London led by Richard Buggs are sequencing the self-pollinated offspring of a tree from Worcestershire, held by the Earth Trust.[10] A group at the John Innes Centre and The Genome Analysis Centre led by Allan Downie are sequencing "Tree 35" from Denmark, discovered by Erik Kjær, which has survived 8 years of ash dieback.[11]

Ash dieback[edit]

Ash dieback caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus which was previously known as Chalara fraxinea. Research into the genetics of the resistance of ash (Fraxinus excelsior) has shown that resistance does occur in European populations, but, at least for the samples tested, it is neither common nor strong.[12][13][14][15]

Uses[edit]

Veneer of Common Ash Wood.
Replica of the body frame from the Volvo ÖV 4 car, made primarily from ash wood.

The resilience and rapid growth made it an important resource for smallholders and farmers. It was probably the most versatile wood in the countryside with wide-ranging uses. Until World War II the trees were often coppiced on a ten-year cycle to provide a sustainable source of timber for fuel and poles for building and woodworking.[16] The colour of the wood ranges from creamy white to light brown, and the heart wood may be a darker olive-brown. Ash timber is hard, tough and very hard-wearing, with a coarse open grain and a density of 710 kg per cubic meter.[17] It lacks oak's natural resistance to decay, and is not as suitable for posts buried in the ground. Because of its high flexibility, shock-resistance and resistance to splitting, ash wood is the traditional material for bows, tool handles, especially for hammers and axes, tennis rackets and snooker cue sticks[citation needed] and it was extensively used in the construction of early aircraft. Ash was commonly used green for making chair frames which would be seated with another timber or with woven rush (e.g. those made by Philip Clissett, see also The English Regional Chair[18]). The parts were turned on a pole lathe or shaped with a drawknife. The practice essentially died out in the early 20th century, but has seen a revival in recent years.

Ash is valuable as firewood because it burns well even when 'green' (freshly cut).[19] Ash was coppiced, often in hedgerows, and evidence in the form of some huge boles with multiple trunks emerging at head height can still be seen in parts of Britain. In Northumberland, crab and lobster pots (traps) sometimes known as 'creeves' by local people are still made from ash sticks.[citation needed] Because of its elasticity European Ash wood was commonly used for walking sticks. Poles were cut from a coppice and the ends heated in steam. The wood could then be bent in a curved vise to form the handle of the walking stick. The light colour and attractive grain of ash wood make it popular in modern furniture such as chairs, dining tables, doors and other architectural features and wood flooring.

Ash is the only wood used for the manufacture of hurleys, referred to as hurls in parts of Leinster and known as a camán in Irish, the timber sticks used in the game of hurling in Ireland. Hurleys are manufactured from the butt log (bottom 1.5-metre of the stem) and from trees ideally of a diameter at breast height of approximately 25-30 centimetres. Only fast grown, straight and knot free ash can be used for this purpose. Due to the lack of available ash in Ireland, over 75% of the timber needed to produce the 350,000 hurleys required for the game annually must be imported, mostly from eastern European countries.[20] The importance of ash timber to the game of hurling is reflected in the fact that the game is referred to all over Ireland as "The Clash of the Ash".

Mythology[edit]

In the 13th century Edda and other writing relating to Norse mythology, a mythological ash tree called Yggdrasil serves as the center of the world. Though traditionally Yggdrasill was often seen as a giant ash tree, many scholars do now agree that in the past an error has been made in the interpretation of the ancient writings, and that the tree is most likely an European yew (Taxus baccata). This mistake would find its origin in an alternative word for the yew tree in the Old Norse, namely Needle Ash (barraskr). In addition, ancient sources, including the Eddas, write about a vetgrønster vida which means "evergreen tree". An ash sheds its leaves in the winter, while yew trees retain their needles.

Yggdrasill's roots were anchored in the abyss of the underworld, and watered by the streams of wisdom and faith. Its trunk was supported by the earth, while its crown touched the arc of heaven.

Folklore[edit]

It is recorded that on the Isle of Bute in Scotland lovers used to eat leaves of an ash tree known at the "Dreamin' Tree" that grew near the church of St Blane and the pleasant dreams they then experienced revealed their actual spouses and intended fates.[21]

Cultivars[edit]

Ash saplings from a mast year.

There are a number of cultivars including;

Gallery[edit]

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