Fraxinus excelsior
European ash

Oleaceae (olive family)
Europe, Turkey

The hard and resilient wood of the ash suits it for axe handles, skis, tennis racquets, ladders, and similar uses, making it one of the most valuable trees in European forest production. It may be distinguished from the other ashes on campus by the relatively long strings of samaras which themselves are long, being about 1½ inches. At the outer end of the single wing there is a tiny notch. The oval leaflets are 7 to 11 in number, about 4 inches long, with a toothed margin. They are dark glossy green on top but pale underneath and with some slight furriness on the midribs of the leaflets. If a leaf is pulled from the tree in summer the leaflets curl tightly. The next season’s leaf buds, which are already well-formed early in summer, are black. A dozen European ash stand in the large parking lot at Jordan Quad. In Spain the name of this tree is fresno.

Virgil says, Fraxinus in silvis pulcherrima, pinus in hortis, populus in fluviis, abies in montibus altis. “The ash is the most beautiful tree in the woods, the pine in gardens, the poplar by rivers, and the fir on high mountains.”

Name derivation: Fraxinus – classical Latin name for ash; excelsior – taller.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.