The Ash tree is a very common tree in the
in the upper midwestern part of the United States.
There are some 60 species in the genus, nearly all in the northern hemisphere and mainly moderate or large sized trees. All have opposite buds and in some these are completely black; all but one have pinnate leaves; most have wind pollinated flowers
without petals; all have winged seeds. Several species yield excellent timber, of great value to men even in prehistoric times because the easily worked yet very strong and exceptionally elastic wood has proved ideal for many of the tools that have contributed to civilization; handles
for everything from stone age axes to modern tools, inclucing spears lances pikes, plough beams, cart shaf.....Ash timber is unusual in that each annual ring is made up of two exceptionally different layers - the springwood of large pore structure is light and elastic, but the summerwood is much denser and stronger; this
alternation of different qualities gives the timber its special strength and resisience.
Native to Europe and Asia Minor, this is one of the largest and most important European broadleaved trees, growing up to 150 ft tall with girths up to 20ft, with a tall-domed open crown. It has very distinct jet black, squat, conic buds. The pinnate leaves are 6-14in long with 9-13 leaflets, each broadly lanceolate, acuminate and serrate.
The tree shows extraordinary sexual variation, not only do some trees have all female flowers, some all male trees have all female flowers, some all male and some mixed, but the flowers themselves are often mixed, even on the same twig; opening before the leaves, they occur in small feathery bunches, mixed purple, light yellow and green, small
but very attractive. The winged, strap shaped seeds (often called 'keys') about 1-11/2in long, on slender stalks hang in clusters; pale green at first, then yellowish and finally brown, they often remain on the tree all the winter. The pale grey bark is smooth when young but later develops a beautiful network of interwoven ridges and furrows.
The valuable timber is very light brown often tinged with pink and used for all the wide range of purposes listed before.
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