Woodland Trust

Nature's CalendarNature Detectives

Bluebells are just starting to flower

Ash dieback disease - should I still record ash trees?

Ash Photo: Barnesash

Fraxinus excelsior


Why not download our ash fact sheet?

ash fact sheet

  • Elegant deciduous tree growing up to 40m high
  • Tall-domed, open crown
  • Young trees have smooth, grey bark that becomes dark and fissured with ageAsh. Pete Holmes
  • Buds are black

  • Leaves usually have about 3-6 pairs of leaflets that are distinctively pointed
  • Flowers, which look like coral growths, appear before the leaves
  • Leaves turn yellow in autumn
  • Winged fruits hang in clusters (keys) and turn brown after leaf fallAsh. Pete Holmes

Where found

Found on all but the poorest and most acid ground. Common in woods, along hedgerows and in streets and parks. Rare in northern Scotland.

When to look for

Fabulous ash facts

  • The wood is extremely strong lending itself to a variety of purposes, especially handles for tools. In the past it was used to make coaches and the first car bodies, as well as the first skis

  • When dried it burns with a clear blue flame making it a sought after commodity for winter fuel

  • The ash tree belongs to the same family of plants, called the Oleaceae, as the olive tree

  • In Norse mythology, the World Tree Yggdrasil is commonly held to be an ash tree

  • Its common name goes back to the Old English æsc, meaning spears made of ash wood

  • Ash bark was formerly valued for treating malaria, as a substitute for cinchona bark which was used to make quinine