Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is a tall tree, native to most of Europe, with the exception of northern Scandinavia and southern Mediterranean Europe. It is a deciduous tree 20-35 m tall, and is readily distinguished from other species of ash in that it has black buds, unlike the brown buds of most other ashes. The leaves are 20-35 cm long, pinnate compound, with 9-13 leaflets. It is usually one of the last trees to burst into leaf.
The leaves of the European Ash are often among the last to open in spring, and the first to fall in autumn if an early frost strikes. The flowers open before the leaves, the female flowers being somewhat longer than the male flowers. Both male and female flowers can occur on the same tree, but it is common to find all male and all female trees.
Surprisingly, a tree that is all male one year can produce female flowers the next, and similarly a female tree can become male. The female flowers develop into fruits, and because they hang in bunches the fruits of the ask tree are known as 'ash keys'.
Ash wood is a traditional material for tool handles, tennis rackets and snooker cues; it is also used as firewood because it burns well even when 'green' (freshly cut). Ash was coppiced, often in hedgerows, and evidence in the form of some huge boles with multiple trunks emerging at head height can still be see in parts of Britain.
Some cultivars are 'Autumn Blaze', 'Autumn Purple', and 'Skyline'.
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