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Fraxinus excelsior - L.
Common Name Ash, European ash, Common Ash
Family Oleaceae
USDA hardiness 5-8
Known Hazards Poisonous to ruminants[76], it has also caused dermatitis in some people[76].
Habitats Forming woods on calcareous soils in the wetter parts of Britain, also in oakwoods, scrub, hedges etc[17]. It is also often found on acid soils[17].
Range Europe, including Britain south of latitude 64°, to N. Africa and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun

Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

Fraxinus excelsior Ash, European ash, Common Ash

Fraxinus excelsior Ash, European ash, Common Ash
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Fraxinus excelsior is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 10-May It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen from Sep to January. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.


Woodland Garden Canopy; Bog Garden;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Manna;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Oil;  Tea.

Immature seed - usually pickled by steeping in salt and vinegar, and then used as a condiment for other foods[2, 8, 66, 183]. The leaves are sometimes used as an adulterant for tea[2, 177, 183]. A manna is obtained from the tree[183]. No further details are given. An edible oil similar to sunflower (Helianthus annuus) oil is obtained from the seed[7].
Medicinal Uses

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Antiperiodic;  Astringent;  Carminative;  Cathartic;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Laxative;  Purgative;  

The leaves are astringent, cathartic, diaphoretic, mildly diuretic, laxative and purgative[4, 7, 9, 13, 21, 165, 254]. The have been used as a laxative, making a mild substitute for senna pods[254]. The leaves should be gathered in June, well dried and stored in airtight containers[4]. The bark is antiperiodic, astringent and a bitter tonic[4, 240]. Little used in modern herbalism, it is occasionally taken in the treatment of fevers[254]. The seeds, including their wings, have been used as a carminative[4]. They will store for 12 months if gathered when ripe[4].
Other Uses
Dye;  Fuel;  Oil;  Shelterbelt;  String;  Tannin;  Wood.

A green dye is obtained from the leaves[7]. The bark is a source of tannin[4]. A tying material can be obtained from the wood[6] (does this mean the bark?). Very tolerant of extreme exposure and relatively fast growing, though often windshaped in exposed positions, it can be grown as a shelterbelt tree[49, 200]. However, it is late coming into leaf and also one of the first trees to lose its leaves in the autumn and this makes it less suitable in a shelter belt. Wood - hard, light, flexible, strong, resilient. A very valuable wood, it is much used for tool handles, oars, furniture, posts etc[4, 6, 7, 13, 46, 66]. An excellent fuel, burning well even when green[6]. There is some doubt over how well the green wood burns with several people claiming that it needs to be properly seasoned[K].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Firewood, Pollard, Specimen. Prefers a deep loamy soil, even if it is on the heavy side[1, 200]. Most members of this genus are gross feeders and require a rich soil[11, 200]. Plants can succeed in very exposed positions, including maritime exposure, though they can become wind-shaped[49]. Thrives in alkaline soils[11] but not in shallow soils over chalk. Tolerates a pH as low as 4.5, but prefers a base-rich soil above 5.5[186]. Trees are surprisingly tolerant of seasonally water-logged soils[186]. Dislikes dryness at the roots, especially in late spring[186]. Very intolerant of shade, young plants fail to develop properly in such a position and often die. Although the dormant plant is very cold-hardy, the young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K]. A fast growing tree, it is sometimes cultivated for its valuable timber. Very tolerant of cutting, ash was also at one time frequently coppiced for its wood[186]. However, modern use of plastics have reduced its economic values. There are many named varieties, selected for their ornamental value[11]. Trees have a light canopy and cast little shade[186]. A food plant for many insect species, there are 41 associated insect species[24, 30]. Trees can be male, female, monoecious or hermaphrodite, they can also change sex from year to year[11]. Trees take 30 - 40 years to flower from seed[186]. The flowers are produced on one-year old wood[7]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
The seed is best harvested green - as soon as it is fully developed but before it has fully dried on the tree - and can then be sown immediately in a cold frame[80]. It usually germinates in the spring[80]. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification and is best sown as soon as possible in a cold frame[200]. Approximately 5% of stored seed will germinate in the first year, the remainder germinating in the second year[186]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions or a nursery bed in late spring or early summer of the following year. If you have sufficient seed then it is possible to sow it directly into an outdoor seedbed, preferably in the autumn. Grow the seedlings on in the seedbed for 2 years before transplanting either to their permanent positions or to nursery beds. Cuttings of mature wood, placed in a sheltered outdoor bed in the winter, sometimes strike.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Fraxinus americanaWhite Ash12
Fraxinus angustifoliaNarrow-Leaved Ash10
Fraxinus bungeanaXiao Ye Qin02
Fraxinus chinensis rhynchophyllaHua Qu Liu02
Fraxinus floribundaHimalayan Ash22
Fraxinus hookeri 00
Fraxinus latifoliaOregon Ash01
Fraxinus longicuspis 01
Fraxinus nigraBlack Ash01
Fraxinus ornusManna Ash, Flowering ash33
Fraxinus pennsylvanicaRed Ash, Green ash, Water Ash11
Fraxinus quadrangulataBlue Ash00
Fraxinus sieboldianaAsh00
Fraxinus texensisTexas White Ash00
Fraxinus velutinaArizona Ash, Velvet ash, Modesto Ash, Fantex Ash00
Fraxinus xanthoxyloides 00
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Eva Wallander Tue Apr 11 2006
I doubt your source (76) claiming that ash is poisonous to ruminants, as its lelaves has been used as a fodder for a very long time.
Elizabeth H.
Steven Doyle Wed Oct 1 2008
Steven Doyle Recent research indicates an extract of the bark contains fraxin and esculin. which affect the processing of proteins in the skin responsible for creating the scaffolding of the dermis. This is being used in the cosmetic industry for skin care products. Which calls into question the reports of dermatitis.
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Subject : Fraxinus excelsior  

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