The Ash Tree (Fraxinus excelsior)

Caroline Brett

Made by the Forge plants a native sapling for every order received. 2018 sees a new series highlighting the virtues of the British trees the company promotes as a major part of its ethos.

“Ash logs, all smooth and grey,
burn them green or old;
Buy up all that come your way,
They’re worth their weight in gold”

(old, anonymous poem).

Ash, known as the ‘king of firewood’, throws plenty of heat, doesn’t spit and will burn as green wood (although seasoned is better). A member of the olive family, it is probably the most versatile tree in the countryside. The wood is resilient, tough and very hard-wearing but lacks the oak’s resistance to rot. It’s not good for posts buried in the ground. In the past it was often coppiced on a ten-year cycle, providing timber for burning and construction. It was extensively used in the construction of early aircraft and even the body frame for early Volvo cars. Flexible, shock-resistant and not liable to split, it has traditionally been used for bows, tool handles, tennis rackets and snooker cues. It is still popular to make furniture, flooring, walking sticks and lobster pots and is our choice of wood for our shelves, tables and benches.

Known for its helicopter seeds, growing on average to 18m tall but occasionally reaching a massive 43m, it rarely exceeds 250 years of age.  Mature trees are known to suffer ‘summer branch drop’ when apparently healthy trees drop large branches for no apparent reason. 

Ash dieback, caused by the fungus is a serious disease that is killing ash trees across Europe.  The fungus blocks water transport within the tree causing leaf loss, lesions on the bark and ultimately the dieback of the crown. There is no known cure. An infected tree will ultimately die. Scientists across Europe are fighting a race against time to find resistant strains to safeguard the ash from the devastating effects of Dutch elm disease on the English elm. 

Caroline Brett
Caroline Brett

Caroline graduated from Bristol University with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology. She worked briefly in radio before joining Survival Anglia Television as a writer/producer. Now as a director of her own production company, she has made films on a diverse range of subjects from black caiman in Brazil, the history of the pearl trade in Bahrain and a remote island in the Seychelles. She has written nine books, numerous articles and is a commissioned artist.

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