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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

04 February, 2011

Ash (Fraxinus execlsior)

The Ash is a fine, tall, upstanding member of the tree community. The main trunk reaches a point where it divides into 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 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.

Close up the bark has a distinctive 'ash' 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.

The flowers appear well before the leaves on the Ash from dark black buds that can be seen on the twigs almost all winter. The flowers turn in to 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.

Ash is commonly harvested as it is used for tennis rackets, billiard cues, hockey sticks, oars, hurdles, tent pegs, tool handles and furniture.