Common ash, or European ash in North America, is Fraxinus excelsior, a handsome, spreading deciduous tree that typically grows 70 to 80 feet tall  with a similar spread. The ash is one of the supreme shade trees, and, for a hardwood, is relatively fast growing. It does not often achieve the really long life span of oak, but it can manage one to two hundred years which makes it a heritage choice.

Ashes have a long clear trunk with impressive crowns. The lower branches grow sideways and downwards with a upward tilt at the tips giving an elegant aspect to the tree. The multi-divided leaves are dark green and 10 to 12 inches long. In autumn they drop while still green though some ashes have first rate fall color. And there are a seemingly endless number of special cultivars of varied form and color.

It is pollution tolerant and can take most soil types. It won't thrive in the extreme south of North America but will do well throughout the rest of the US, Canada, New Zealand and grows throughout the UK. This is the preeminent shade tree for the larger property.

As always, this tree may not be found in the large discount nurseries, but more likely found in the select plant nurseries or from mail-order tree nurseries. And don’t forget the impressive Manna ash, Fraxinus ornus or White ash, Fraxinus americana.

Fraxinus excelsior


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