Mornin abody 🙂
Today’s tree is the ash tree.
Time for a tale – how the ash tree came to be.
These trees have a long lifespan; they can live for hundreds of years.
If you’ve listened to the tale, you’ll know that ash is one of the last trees to produce leaves in spring and one of the first to drop them in autumn.
Challenge – can you make up your own tale about the ash tree?
This means that the understorey below an ash tree has light for much of the year, allowing other smaller trees, shrubs and plants to flourish. Which in turn, encourages an abundance of animals and insects.
Ash trees grow straight and tall and the hardwood is tough and not easily splintered; it is used to make tool handles, hockey sticks and oars. Bows were often made out of ash, for in addition to it being strong, it can also be flexible.
It is an attractive light wood which makes lovely furniture.
It is my favourite wood for fire as it is slow burning and does not give off much smoke.
For more information on this versatile tree, check out this link: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/a-z-of-british-trees/ash/
These are ash flowers just beginning to bud, with the leaf bud at the top
Have you ever heard the saying:
‘Oak before ash, yer in for a splash, ash before oak, yer in for a soak’?
These are new oak leaves and flowers
This saying means look out for whichever of these trees comes into leaf first – and you can supposedly predict the summer weather!
This year, ash started off before oak but, at the time of writing, they’re at about an equal stage of growth!
The ash tree
Young ash trees have smooth, brownish-grey bark, but as the tree ages, deep ridges form and it becomes a uniform grey:
Here are the trunks of a young ash and an old ash
The trunk is straight and tall:
and the branches often have a ‘candelabra’ shape, curving upwards:
The buds, flowers, leaves, and fruit
Ash are the only trees with black buds. The buds develop through the summer and once the tree has lost its leaves, they stand out like stubby black teeth:
In spring, the flowers begin to develop below the bud, clustering round the top of the branches and twigs:
The fruit begins to develop as little red seed pods:
They gradually elongate and hang down from each branch, turning green, yellow then brown:
The leaves start of as a bunch of spears:
As they grow, they unfold and develop well-defined serrated leaflets:
Challenge – can you draw the leaf?
Ash tree seedlings
Fruit seeds are dispersed by the wind and they germinate wherever there’s enough light: This little seedling’s in Seaton Park
Sadly ash has been affected by a fungal disease, known as ‘ash die-back’. The new growth withers and many of our older trees are now dying.
As you walk around in May, June, look out for trees that still have little or no growth – it may be a healthy slow-growing ash.
But if you notice ash leaves that are blackened in spring or summer, please report to your local tree council or Tree Alert Uk here: https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/tree-alert/what-do-you-need-make-your-report/
Thanks for reading, see you next week 🙂