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The ash is a fine, tall, upstanding member of the tree community. The main trunk reaches a point where it divides in to many branches that go upwards rather than stretching outwards. They are usually found in clusters too, rather than as occasional loan trees like the oak. It is a widely distributed tree across the country and can be found extensively in Dorset.

It is one of the last to get its leaves in spring and yet one of the earliest to shed its leaves in autumn. There is an old country saying 'Oak before ash, in for a splash; ash before oak, in for a soak' so beware if the oak comes in to leaf first!

Close up the bark has a distinctive ashen colouring. In its early years the bark is fairly smooth and has a more greyish green appearance but as the tree matures with age so these irregular ridged patterns form and the grey ashen colour becomes more distinctive.

In cross section the trunk is far lest dominated by age rings, which are light coloured rather than dark and the wood is a light tan colour. Ash is commonly harvested as it is used for tennis rackets, billiard cues, hockey sticks, oars, hurdles, tent pegs, tool handles and furniture.

The flowers appear well before the leaves from dark black buds that can be seen on the twigs almost all winter. The flowers turn in to splendid clusters of brown keys which often stay on the tree all winter and then fall to the ground in spring as the new flowers appear. The wind will then disperse them thanks to that wing each has.

The twigs have the definite nobly appearance and tend to have a greenish tinge to them.


Common Name Ash
Scientific Name Fraxinus excelsior
Species Group Deciduous Trees
Interest Level
Look for
Identification Notes
Primary Habitat
Family Olive family - Oleaceae
Status Common
Flower Colour Group Brown
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
Preferred Environment
Look for The small sprays of dark brown, almost black, flowers
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Deciduous Trees