Common Ash Fraxinus excelsior

The Common Ash is found throughout Britain, growing naturally in woods, or planted in towns, parks and churchyards. It is one of the biggest hedgerow trees, now that the large Elms have been removed. It is often the last tree to come into leaf in the spring. It is easily recognised by its leaves in summer and its upturned branches and big black buds in winter. Ash fruits, known as a keys, hang in bunches on some trees throughout the winter. Flowers are prominent in spring before the leaves. Ash flowers have no petals.An ash tree disease called Chalara, has recently been found to have crossed from mainland Europe to the UK. The disease is spread by a fungus and causes leaf loss and crown dieback.


common ash tree

The Common Ash is one of the largest hedgerow trees. Photo taken in August.

common ash tree leaves

Leaf with 9 tooth-edged leaflets. This is a pinnate leaf. There are no buds where the leaflets meet the leaf midrib.

common ash tree buds

Common ash buds are very black, making the tree easy to identify in winter. The lateral buds are in opposite pairs.

common ash tree male flowers

Male flowers in March, before the leaves. Ash flowers have no petals. Some trees have only male flowers, some only female and some have flowers that have male and female parts. This photo of a male flower cluster shows the purple anthers that split open to release pollen onto the wind.

common ash tree keys

Ash fruits, known as keys, hang down in bunches. The keys turn brown in autumn and stay on the tree all winter. Each fruit is technically called a samara. The fruit of Maples are also samaras. The word refers to any dry fruit which has flattened wings attached to it to help in its wind dispersion.

common ash tree bark

An old tree with ridged bark.