Ash trees

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Ash trees
Habit of the common ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

Habit of the common ash ( Fraxinus excelsior )

Nuclear eudicotyledons
Euasterids I
Order : Mint family (Lamiales)
Family : Olive family (Oleaceae)
Genre : Ash trees
Scientific name

The ash trees ( Fraxinus ) is a plant genus in the family of Olive Family (Oleaceae).

In Europe three species are native: the common ash ( Fraxinus excelsior ), the manna ash ( Fraxinus ornus ) and Fraxinus angustifolia ( Fraxinus angustifolia ). The mountain ash, on the other hand, does not belong to the ash tree , despite its name, which is misleading in German.

Description and ecology

Vegetative characteristics

Ash species are mostly deciduous, rarely evergreen trees or rarely shrubs . The winter buds are blunt with one to three pairs of opposite scales.

The mostly opposite or rarely whorled leaves are divided into a petiole and a leaf blade. The petioles are often thickened at the base. The leaf blades are usually pinnate unpaired, rarely simple.

Common ash ( Fraxinus excelsior ), illustration

Generative characteristics

The terminal or lateral, spike-like inflorescences contain many flowers. Bracts are present or absent.

The relatively small, four-fold flowers are hermaphroditic or unisexual. The species are monoecious or dioecious. There are four fused sepals or they are missing. The Ornus section usually has four (rarely two or six) petals , the Fraxinus section lacks them. The white to yellowish petals are fused. There are only two stamens , they are fused with the base of the petals. The stamens are just like the pen short. The species in the Fraxinus and Melioides section are monoecious or sometimes dioecious. The flowers are always without petals (a petal ). The flowers are often unisexual but also hermaphroditic. The species of the Fraxinus and Melioides section are wind pollinated. This makes them an exception within the Oleaceae family. Anemophilia is usually a typical feature of unisexual flowers (another exception with wind-pollinated, hermaphrodite flowers in Central Europe are the elms ).

The fruit is a solitary, one-sided winged nut (Samara). The germination takes place epigeal (above ground).


The Fraxinus species occur mainly in the temperate to subtropical areas of the northern hemisphere . To the south the distribution area extends to South Asia and Java , North Africa as well as Mexico and Cuba . Main areas of distribution with around 20 species each are East Asia (China) and North America.


The first release of Fraxinus was made in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus in Species Plantarum , 2, S. 1057. As a lectotype was 1913 Fraxinus excelsior L. fixed. Synonyms for Fraxinus L. are: Apilia Raf. orth. var., Aplilia Raf. , Calycomelia Kostel. , Fraxinoides medic. , Leptalix Raf. , Mannaphorus Raf. , Meliopsis rchb. , Ornanthes Raf. , Ornus Boehm. , Petlomelia Nieuwl. , Samarpsea Raf.

The genus Fraxinus belongs to the tribe Oleeae in the family Oleaceae .

According to Wallander 2008, the ash species ( Fraxinus ) is divided into six sections with a total of about 43 to 51 or 58 species:

  • Section Dipetalae (Lingelsh.) Nikolajev : The three or so species are distributed from the USA to Mexico:
    • Single-leaved ash ( Fraxinus anomala Torr. Ex S. Watson ): The home is the western USA to New Mexico.
    • Fraxinus dipetala Hook. & Arn. : It occurs in the US states of California, Utah, Nevada as well as Arizona and Mexico.
    • Blue ash ( Fraxinus quadrangulata Michx. ): It is found in eastern to central North America from southern Ontario via Indiana, southern Michigan, Ohio, western West Virginia, Illinois, southeastern Iowa, southeastern Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, southern Wisconsin, northern Alabama, Arkansas, northwest Georgia, Kentucky to eastern Tennessee widespread.
  • Fraxinus section : It contains about eight species:
    • Narrow-leaved ash ( Fraxinus angustifolia Vahl ): It occurs in four subspecies in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe, North Africa and West to Central Asia. In South Africa and Australia it is a neophyte.
    • Common ash or common ash ( Fraxinus excelsior L. ): It occurs in three subspecies in Europe and Western Asia.
    • Manchurian ash ( Fraxinus mandshurica Rupr. ): It is native to East Asia, China, Japan and Korea.
    • Black ash ( Fraxinus nigra Marshall ): The home is Canada and the USA.
    • Hairy ash ( Fraxinus pallisiae Wilmott ex Pallis , synonym: Fraxinus holotricha Koehne ): The home is southeastern Europe to Moldova and the Caucasus region.
    • Broad-handled ash ( Fraxinus platypoda Oliv. ): It is native to China and Japan.
    • River ash ( Fraxinus sogdiana Bunge , Syn .: Fraxinus potamophila Herder ): The home is Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan) to Pakistan and Xinjiang.
  • Section Melioides (Endl.) Nikolajev : It contains about ten species:
    • Fraxinus albicans Buckley : The home is the USA and Mexico.
    • White ash ( Fraxinus americana L. , Syn .: Fraxinus biltmoreana Beadle ): The home is the north-central and eastern USA to eastern Texas.
    • Fraxinus berlandieriana DC. : The home is Louisiana, Texas and eastern Mexico.
    • Fraxinus caroliniana Mill .: The home is the southeast USA to Texas and Cuba.
    • Oregon ash ( Fraxinus latifolia Benth. ): Native to British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, and California.
    • Fraxinus papillosa Lingelsh. : The home is Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.
    • Red ash or green ash ( Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marshall ): The home is Canada and the USA.
    • Fraxinus profunda (Bush) Bush : The home is the north-central and eastern USA.
    • Fraxinus uhdei (Wenz.) Lingelsh. : The home is Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. She is a neophyte in Bolivia and Hawaii.
    • Arizona ash ( Fraxinus velutina Torr. ): The home is the USA and Mexico
  • Ornus section : It contains about 19 species: The mostly hermaphrodite flowers have petals and are mostly insect-pollinated:
    • Fraxinus apertisquamifera H.Hara : This endemic only occurs on the Japanese island of Honshu.
    • Fraxinus baroniana Diels : It thrives at altitudes of 700 to 1300 meters in the Chinese provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi and Sichuan.
    • Bungee ash ( Fraxinus bungeana DC. ): It thrives at altitudes from 0 to 1500 meters in the Chinese provinces of Anhui, Hebei, Henan, Liaoning, Shandong and Shanxi.
    • Fraxinus chinensis Roxb. (Syn .: Fraxinus caudata J.L.Wu , Fraxinus japonica Blume ex K.Koch ): There are two subspecies:
      • Fraxinus chinensis Roxb. subsp. chinensis : It occurs from China to Indochina and Korea.
      • Fraxinus chinensis subsp. rhynchophylla (Hance) AEMurray (Syn .: Fraxinus rhynchophylla Hance , Fraxinus japonica Blume ex K.Koch ): It occurs from Russia's Far East to Japan and eastern China.
    • Fraxinus ferruginea Lingelsh. : The home is Myanmar and China.
    • Fraxinus floribunda Wall. : The home is Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Tibet and China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang)
    • Fraxinus griffithii C.B.Clarke : It is native to India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and the Chinese provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hubei and Hunan.
    • Fraxinus insularis Hemsl. (Syn .: Fraxinus retusa Champ. Ex Benth. ): The home is China, Japan and Taiwan.
    • Fluffy ash ( Fraxinus lanuginosa Koidz. ): The home is Japan and the Kuril Islands .
    • Long-tipped ash ( Fraxinus longicuspis Sieb. & Zucc. ): The home is central and southern Japan.
    • Fraxinus malacophylla Hemsl. (Syn .: Fraxinus retusifoliolata K.M.Feng ex PYBai ): The home is Thailand, Myanmar and China (Guangxi, Yunnan)
    • Fraxinus micrantha Lingelsh. : The homeland is Pakistan, Nepal and the western Himalayas.
    • Fraxinus odontocalyx Hand .-- Mazz. ex E. Peter : The home is China (Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Zhejiang)
    • Manna ash or flower ash ( Fraxinus ornus L. ): There are two subspecies:
      • Fraxinus ornus subsp. cilicica (Lingelsh.) Yalt. : It occurs in southern Turkey.
      • Fraxinus ornus subsp. ornus : It occurs from Europe to the Caucasus region.
    • Chinese flower ash ( Fraxinus paxiana Lingelsh. ): The home is Shaanxi , Hubei and Hunan .
    • Fraxinus raibocarpa rule : Home is eastern Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
    • Siebold's flower ash ( Fraxinus Sieboldiana Blume ) (Syn .: Fraxinus mariesii Hook. F. ): The home is Japan, Korea and China (Anhui, Fujian, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang).
    • Fraxinus stylosa Lingelsh. : The home is China (Gansu, Guangxi, Henan, Hubei, Shaanxi, Sichuan).
    • Fraxinus trifoliolata W.W.Sm. : The home is China (Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan).
  • Section Pauciflorae (Lingelsh.) Wallander : It contains about ten species:
    • Fraxinus dubia (Willd. Ex Schult. & Schult. F.) PSGreen & M.Nee : The homeland is eastern and southern Mexico and Guatemala.
    • Fraxinus gooddingii Little : The home is Arizona and Mexico.
    • Fraxinus greggii A.Gray : It is native to southwest Texas and Mexico. There are two varieties.
    • Fraxinus purpusii Brandegee (Syn .: Fraxinus bicolor Standl. & Steyerm. ): There are two varieties:
      • Fraxinus purpusii Brandegee var. Purpusii : It occurs from Mexico to Guatemala.
      • Fraxinus purpusii var. Vellerea (Standl. & Steyerm.) PSGreen (Syn .: Fraxinus vellerea Standl. & Steyerm. ): It occurs from the Mexican state of Chiapas to Guatemala.
    • Fraxinus rufescens Lingelsh. : The home is eastern Mexico.
  • Section Sciadanthus (Coss. & Durieu) Z.Wei : It contains about three species:
    • Fraxinus dimorpha Coss. & Durieu (Syn .: Fraxinus xanthoxyloides var. Dumosa (Carrière) Lingelsh. ): The home is Algeria and Morocco.
    • Fraxinus hubeiensis S.Z.Qu et al. : It only thrives in the Chinese province of Hubei at altitudes of 100 to 600 meters.
    • Afghan ash ( Fraxinus xanthoxyloides (G.Don) Wall. Ex DC. ): Homeland is Afghanistan, Pakistan, the western Himalayas and Tibet.

Danger from harmful pathogens

For some years now, the Chalara fraxinea fungus has been causing damage to ash trees, especially in Europe, which is known as ash dieback . The disease is one of the tracheomycoses . The fungus was first described in 2006 and named as the cause of ash dieback. So far nothing is known about the distribution strategy of Chalara fraxinea .

According to a study published in 2016, Peter Thomas from the University of Keele assumes that the interaction of the ash dieback disease with the Asiatic ash splendor beetle , which has already caused great damage in North America and has already occurred in Sweden , will lead to an almost complete disappearance of the ash trees in Europe will lead. However, at least some ash species have been discovered that have a natural resistance to ash dieback, so that these are to be used to carry out a later replanting.


The ash trees have a heavy, ring-pored wood . It is characterized by high strength and elasticity. When exposed to the elements, it has a low durability. The ash wood is used in solid form or as a veneer in interior fittings and for making furniture. Special applications are tool handles and sports equipment (sledges, baseball bats or snooker cues). In the past, ash was also used to make bows , parts for wagons and masts, trees and tiller for boat building.

Ash is also used as tonewood in musical instrument making , for example for solid body guitars and drum shells. Some electric guitars and basses , the wood comes Fraxinus nigra ( Engl. Swamp ash) for the body to use.


In Norse mythology the ash is the world tree Yggdrasil . In Greek mythology, ash trees were fire donors for the people ( "Since then thought he [Zeus] always at the mirage and gave the ash no longer the force tireless fire for mortal people who dwell on the earth." ( Hesiod : Theogony . S. 562 -565)). After Prometheus created humans, Zeus took their fire as punishment. Nevertheless, Prometheus got it back by secretly igniting it in a hollow narthex tube in the sun and thus bringing the heavenly fire to the people. ( Theogony. P. 535 ff.) The sons of the bourgeoisie in Germanic mythology created men from the ash and women from the elm .


Individual evidence

  1. Dieter Heß: The Blossom , 2nd Edition, Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-8001-6434-5 .
  2. ^ Fraxinus at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, accessed November 30, 2018.
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah R. Govaerts, PS Green, 2010: World Checklist of Oleaceae online in : Rafaël Govaerts (Ed.): Fraxinus. In: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP) - The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Fraxinus in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  5. New classification of Fraxinus L. at The Oleaceae website .
  6. a b c Wei Zhi, Peter S. Green: Fraxinus , p. 273 - the same text online as the printed work , In: ZY Wu, PH Raven (ed.): Flora of China , Volume 15 - Myrsinaceae through Loganiaceae , Science Press and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing and St. Louis, 1996, ISBN 0-915279-37-1 .
  7. Ash dieback pathogen is a new type of fungus at . ( Memento of the original from June 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Accessed February 23, 2011)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. Article about Chalara fraxinea at SpiegelOnline.
  9. Damian Carrington Ash dieback and beetle attack likely to 'wipe out' all ash trees in UK and Europe in: The Guardian , March 23, 2016, accessed March 23, 2016
  10. Jessica Needham, Cory Merow et al. a .: Forest community response to invasive pathogens: the case of ash dieback in a British woodland. In: Journal of Ecology . 104, 2016, p. 315, doi : 10.1111 / 1365-2745.12545 .

Web links

Commons : Eschen ( Fraxinus )  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files