How To Properly Identify an Ash Tree
Branch and Bud Arrangement
Branches and buds are directly across from each other and not staggered. When looking for opposite branching in trees, please consider that buds or limbs may die; hence not every single branch will have an opposite mate.
Ash has a compound leaf; a leaf made up of multiple leaflets.These leaves occur in opposite pairs.There are typically 4-6 pairs making up 9-13 leaflets in total. Each leaflet is irregularly serrated, rounded at the base and pointed at the end. The side leaflets have no stem and connect directly onto the mid-rib of the leaf, which is slightly downy underneath. Common ash leaves are a rich green on the top and lighter underneath..
Ash trees have a distinctive diamond patterned bark with deep fissures or furrows. As the tree develops, the bark lightens to a beige-grey but stays relatively smooth compared to the boles of other similarly sized trees. Larger ash will often have blonde areas on their trunk as they mature.
Flowers & Seeds
The flowers of ash are non-descript both to the eye and to the nose. The flowers are tiny, dark purple and appear – largely unnoticed – in clusters in the spring. The seeds that form in clusters following the flowers are much more noticeable. They take the form of a winged ‘key’, bearing some resemblance to the seeds of sycamore. Common ash keys have only one wing, rather than the symmetrical wing-nut shape of sycamore. Ash keys start off green but have turned brown by around the beginning of autumn. These brown clusters can stay on the trees long after the leaves have fallen and, if present, are an easily recognized identifying feature in the winter months.
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