How to identify an ash tree

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how to identify an ash tree

How do you identify an ash tree?

Wondering if you are looking at an ash tree? Your clues are their leaves, buds, flowers and seeds. Here’s what they look like at-a-glance:

identifying ash leaves
ash tree buds
identifying flowering ash trees
ash keys seeds

Ash tree facts

Hello! In today’s guide we are going to learn how to identify an ash tree. Are you ready? Let’s get started! Here are a few ash tree facts:

  • Common name: Ash – Common or European
  • Latin name: Fraxinus excelsior
  • Family: Oleaceae

Ash trees can grow up to 35 meters tall, live for up to 400 years and prefer growing in fertile, well-drained soil.

identifying ash leaves

Ash leaves

Ash leaves are pinnate, growing in 3-6 opposite pairs with a single leaflet at the end.

ash tree buds

Ash buds

The buds are dark grey or black and grow in rotating, opposite pairs

identifying flowering ash trees

Ash flowers

Ash flowers grow in clusters of tiny, purple-red, spiny-looking, grape-like florets

ash keys seeds

Ash seeds

The seeds (called keys) are long and thin with a seed at one end and grow in clusters

Trees that look similar to ash

identifying ash leaves

ash leaves

elder leaves

elder leaves


Elder leaves look similar to ash, but they are darker in colour, thicker and wider and there are fewer leaflets per stem.

Ash tree uses

  • Medicinal – Ash is traditionally used as a bitter tonic and astringent
  • Dyes – The bark produces a soft, creamy coloured brown dye
  • Bushcraft – Ash twigs are strong and flexible, making them great for bows and arrows
  • Wildlife – Many birds, animals, lichens and fungi rely on ash trees
  • Industry – Ash wood is soft and strong, so used in furniture and sports equipment
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