Sun exposure:
Full shade, partial shade
East facing, north facing, south facing, west facing
Position in border:


Chalky / Alkaline / Clay / Heavy / Moist / Well Drained / Light / Sandy

The ash tree, Fraxinus excelsior, is a fast-growing deciduous tree, native to the U.K. and Europe. The wood is tough, popular for making tool and sports handles, and furniture. A large tree, it needs plenty of space if grown as a specimen tree and is only suitable for very large gardens or wild/woodland areas. However it's possible to grow ash in smaller spaces by coppicing (cutting back to the ground in winter) or as part of a hedge.

Fraxinus excelsior forms a tall, domed head of branches and is easily identified by its large green leaves divided into eight to 12 leaflets that turn yellow in autumn before falling. Bark is smooth and pale brown to grey, and conspicuous black buds are arranged opposite each other along the stems, most visible in winter. Through autumn, winged seeds are borne in clusters. These are designed to spin through the air and spread themselves widely, so if there's an ash tree in your area, watch out for self-sown seedlings and remove them as soon as possible. Ash is fast-growing and reaches much of its mature size in around 25 years.

However, Fraxinus excelsior is not a good planting choice currently, due to Ash Dieback Disease (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus). This has become widespread in many areas of the UK and poses a serious threat to ash trees. Symptoms include black lesions on stems, black blotches on leaves, and extensive dieback of shoots and branches. This disease only attacks plants in the Oleaceae family, which includes the garden shrubs Phillyrea and Chionanthus. Affected trees become unstable and usually need felling to avoid becoming a danger to life.

Plant calendar


Fraxinus and wildlife

Fraxinus is known for attracting birds and butterflies/moths. It is a caterpillar food plant, provides shelter and habitat and has seeds for birds.

Is not known to attract Bees
Is not known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is known to attract Birds
Is known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is not known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Fraxinus poisonous?

Fraxinus has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock
Is not known to attract People