Genus Fraxinus, L. (Ash)

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Leaves - compound (odd-feathered; leaflets, seven to nine); opposite; edge of leaflets slightly toothed or entire; entire at base. Outline - of leaflet, long oval or long egg-shape. Apex - taper-pointed. Base - somewhat pointed. Leaf/Stem - smooth. Leaflet/Stem - about one fourth of an inch long, or more; smooth. Leaf/Bud - rusty-colored and smooth. Leaflet - two to six inches long; pale beneath; downy when young, but becoming nearly smooth, except on the ribs. Bark - of the trunk, light gray. In very young trees it is nearly smooth, but it soon becomes deeply furrowed - the furrows crossing each other, and so breaking the bark into irregular, somewhat square or lozenge-shaped plates. Then in very old trees it becomes smooth again, from the scaling off of the plates. The branches are smooth and grayish-green. The young shoots have a polished, deep-green bark, marked with white lines or dots. Winged seeds - one and a half to two inches long, with the “wing” about one fourth of an inch wide, hanging in loose clusters from slender stems. The base of the seed it pointed and not winged. Found - in rich woods, from Southern Canada to Northern Florida and westward. It is most common in the Northern States. The finest specimens are seen in the bottom lands of the lower Ohio River basin. General Information - a tree forty to eighty feet high. Often the trunk rises forty feet without branching. Its tough and elastic timer is of very great value, being widely used in the manufacture of agricultural implements, for oars, and the shafts of carriages, and in cabinet-work. Fraxinus from a Greek word meaning “separation,” because of the ease with which the wood of the Ash can be split. I find in the notes of an old copy of White’s “Natural History of Selborne” this comment: “The Ash, I think, has been termed by Gilpin the Venus of British trees.” Gerardes’ “Herbal” comments: “The leaves of the Ash are of so great a vertue against serpents, as that the serpents dare not be so bolde as to touch the morning and evening shadowes of the tree, but shunneth them afarre off, as Pliny reporteth in his 16 book, 13 chap. He also affirmeth that the serpent being penned in with boughes laide rounde about, will sooner run into the fire, if any be there, than come neere to the boughes of the Ash.” In Scandinavian mythology the great and sacred tree, Yggdrasil, the greatest and most sacred of all trees, which binds together heaven and earth and hell, is an Ash. Its roots spread over the whole earth. Its branches reach above the heavens. Underneath lies a serpent; above is an eagle; a squirrel runs up and down the trunk, trying to breed strife between them.


Trees: T-Z


Newhall, Charles S. The Trees of North-Eastern America (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1900) 221


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