Common Name – Ash
Irish Name – fuinseog
Latin Name – Fraxinus Excelsior
From a small seed, a mighty trunk shall grow
Ash trees, tall and graceful, often grow together, forming a canopy, reaching heights of thirty-five meters. The bark is pale brown and changes as the tree ages. This type of tree is easily identified in winter by its smooth twigs that have distinctive black, velvety leaf buds. Its leaves move in the direction of sunlight and sometimes the whole crown of the tree can lean in the direction of the sun. Its seeds develop into winged fruits, ‘keys’ or ‘helicopters’ in late summer and autumn. They then fall in winter and early spring.
Ash trees, members of the Oleaceae family, thrive best in fertile, deep and well-drained soil. They make the perfect habitat for a number of different species of wildlife. The canopy and early leaf fall allow sunlight to reach the woodland floor, providing optimum conditions for wildflowers. In turn, these support a range of insects. Bullfinches eat the seeds and owls use the trees for nesting. In addition, Ash bark is often covered with lichens and mosses.
The Ash tree has always been given mystical importance, being associated with enchantment and reference has been made to its symbolism as the World Tree. It could be seen as the backbone of the universe, or as the tree of life. Symbolically, the leaf that falls and returns to the roots to nourish the tree can be viewed in terms of the cycles of death and rebirth.