Ash, Fraxinus

tree of the family Oleaceae
(Ash, Lilac, Olive tree, Osmanthe , Privet)

Etymology: from Greek phraxis, "hedge ", or from Latin fraxinus, "lightning", because isolated, it attracts the lightning.
Origin: the Ash, Fraxinus excelsior, the Narrow-leaved ash or Ash oxyphylle, Fraxinus angustifolia are European (margins of Mediterranean basin) and the Flowering Ash, Fraxinus ornus (Corsica, Italy). The ash is one of the most recent trees on earth. The Ash monophyllous, Fraxinus excelsior Diversifolia, is a cultivar.
Other species: Bald Ash of Asia, White Ash, Fraxinus americana, and Green Ash, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, both of America.
Habitat : the ash appreciates the sunny zones, river banks, or mixed forests. The ash covers 2,6 % of French forests (look at the distribution map of the French forest).
Hardiness: zone 7 (it supports cold until -17 °C or 1 °F).
Height: 40 m tall. Its growth is quick. Its trunk attains 1 m in diameter.
Form (insulated tree): ovoid. It has ascending branches, an irregular crown and a sparse foliage. Planted tight, the ash grows in height, with a straight trunk.
Bark : smooth, pale gray, and cracking after 30 years. It then has a network of cracks.
Wood: the ash wood is white, nacreous, a bit pinkish. It darkens, once cut. Its use is described below.
Deciduous Foliage. The ash leaves are born of characteristic black buds (they are well seen in winter). Leaves are opposed (the leaves of Locust tree or of Japanese Pagodatree, which resembles them a bit, are alternate) and decussate. They are composed of 5-15 leaflets lanceolate, sessile (without petioles), apex and base sharp and finely serrated edge. Depending on the species, the leaflets are thin and elongated or otherwise extensive. They are dark green and hairless on top, paler and with somewhat hairy veins on the underside. Monophyllous Ash (Fraxinus diversifolia) has a leaf composed of one to three large leaflets (10 cm) that could be taken, each for a single sheet.
Flowers: the common Ash flourishes at the end of 30-40 years. Flowers are small, greenish yellow, grouped in panicles first upright then pendulous which appear before leaves in order to favour the pollination by the wind. Flowers are hermaphrodite. Blossoming takes place from March till May according to the region. The Flowering Ash is distinguished by nice white flowers, in fragrant duster, in May. Every flower has 4 long petals.
Risk of pollen allergenic of Fraxinus excelsior: medium.
Fruit: samara flat, of 5 cm, petiolate, grouped in tufts of 10-20. They stay on the tree in winter, what helps to recognize it.
Literature: a superb poem of Vauquelin de La Fresnaye (on 1535?-1606). The ash is described in the Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (written between 1751 and 1772 under the direction of Diderot).
Legends and traditions: In Greek mythology, the Ash is the tree of Poséidon, which is notably the God of seisms. In the Iliade of Homère, the javelin of Achilles was made in ash. For Germen and Scandinavians, it is the founder tree, Yggdrasil. It supports the celestial arch and takes root in Wisdom. The Slavs allocate power in the Ash to push back the snakes: it is possible to have a rest in its shadow without fear. In Celtic astrology, the ash is bright, impulsive, demanding...
- Medical plant anti-rheumatic, diuretic, analgesic, tonic, febrifuge, astringent (leaves, bark, fruit). From the bark was extracted the "bark of Europe", which is febrifuge. The study and chemical analysis of different organs of ash showed the presence of flavonoids: the rutoside, anti-inflammatory properties. Mannitol and potassium salts present in the leaves are responsible for diuretic activity that stimulates the functions of elimination from the body. Mannitol is also used as a protective tissue of joints. It allows them to slow down aging.
-tanning and dyeing: conservation of skin, green tones for wool (bark of young twigs).
-feed: livestock fodder (leaves, like the leaves of elm).
- Food: candied fruit green as a pickle or capers and drink. The fresh flower the flowering ash, mixed with yeast, produced, after fermentation, a soft drink and antirheumatic, the frenetic (see below).
- Wood: firewood, carpentry and cabinet making, tool handles as wood quality.
Ash wood is good buffing and smooth feel. It is hard, heavy (dense), flexible and not brittle: they were made, from antiquity, the pikes lances (Ash trees were planted near the castles). Ovid in Metamorphoses, called it "tree with spears. " It was discovered Neolithic tools (5000 years BC) with an ash handle. In everyday life, we also made the sleeves of spades, ladder rungs, rudders, paddles, rackets, sports and old skis.
Ash monophyllous can be planted in the street line.

Recipe Frenette
Put pieces of dried chicory root in the oven and bake one hour at low temperature (100 ° C). Then prepare a decoction by boiling them 15 minutes then strain.
Infuse for 2 hours the ash leaves several gallons of boiling water and filtered. Dissolve citric acid and sugar in a few liters of hot water.
Mix the different preparations in a fermentation tank and add water to a temperature of 22 to 28 ° C.
Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup warm water and add to mixture. Cover the bowl with a cloth and allow to ferment 10 to 15 days. Place the bottle and frantically sealing it (because of the pressure). The drink is ready after 2 to 3 weeks. 

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