Ash by Brian Eversham


©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION


Scientific name: Fraxinus excelsior
A common tree, ash is familiar to many of us for its autumnal bunches of winged seeds, called 'keys'. It can be found in woodlands and prefers damp and fertile soils.

Species information


Height: 15-35m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


In Scandinavian mythology, ash was the 'tree of life' and was regarded as a healing tree in the UK; today, however, ash is sometimes considered a 'weed'. It is a tall, broad tree that is both tough and fast-growing, and manages to colonise areas easily, taking up space where other trees have died or fallen. However, it is a good forest tree as it lets light reach the floor, allowing other plants to flourish, such as Wild garlic and Dog's mercury. It is particularly common in the north and in Wales, where it favours damp and fertile soils in cooler conditions.

How to identify

Ash has compound leaves (made up of seven to twelve leaflets); large black buds; and bunches of ash 'keys' - winged seeds that disperse in the autumn.


Widespread in UK.

Did you know?

The wood of ash is both strong and flexible, and withstands shock well. For these reasons, it is often used for sporting equipment, such as oars, hockey sticks and snooker cues.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.