ash grows to a height of 40 to 70 feet and has a trunk diameter of up to
two feet. The stout, straight, upright branches form an open, narrow or
slightly rounded crown.
ash is present in the northern two thirds of Illinois, where it grows in
swamps and bottomlands in cold wet soils. It is most common along streams
and in swampy woods where it occurs frequently with American elm.
ash is a slow growing, commercially unimportant tree. Black ash is also
called Hoop or Basket ash because the pounded wood splits along growth
rings and the sheets of wood are cut into thin strips for weaving baskets,
chair seats, or barrels.
of its range in eastern North America, the ashes and box-elder are the
only native trees with feather-compound leaves. Feather-compound leaves
are those in which the midribs of the main leaflets branch from a main,
central midrib at several points in a feathered pattern. None of the leaflets
of black ash have stalks. The absence of stalks is a distinguishing characteristic
of black ash in Illinois. Black ash is the only native ash in Newfoundland.
ash bark is reddish brown to gray (more commonly), irregular and corky
with tight shallow fissures. It may also be somewhat scaly or flaky when
are gray, rounded and hairless. The buds are finely hairy, conical and
about 1/4 inch long. They are very dark, bluish-black, and thereby distinguishable
from those of either white or green ash.
The leaves are opposite and pinnately/ feather-compound with 7 to 11 leaflets. The leaflets are not stalked - another distinguishing characteristic that separates black from other ashes. The leaflets are always toothed, lance-shaped and pointed at the tip. They may be rounded and asymmetrical at the base and can be up to 6 inches long. They are dark green and smooth on the upper surface and paler with rusty hairs along the veins underneath.
can have either both male and female components (stamens and pistils together
in one flower), or only male (stamens) or female (pistils) parts on an
individual flower. They appear in April before leaf-out as small, elongated
clusters of petal-less, purplish flowers.
are oblong, winged, and lance-shaped with a single seed at the base. They
are up to 1 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
ash wood is soft and heavy. It is not particularly strong, but it is durable.
Baskets, barrels, and woven chair bottoms are made with flattened strips
of black ash wood. Black ash is also used to make cabinets, interior finishing,
and fence posts. The knotty burls (hard, woody growths on the trunks or
branches of trees) are made into veneers and furniture because of their
interesting grain patterns.