Thursday Trees – Ash (An Fuinseóg)

Ash leaves, autumn 2008

Ash leaves, autumn 2008

The Ash is the last of the Irish native trees to get its new leaves each year – generally not arriving until May. I am lucky enough to have three and a half Ash trees in the ditch that forms two sides of my back garden. The “half tree” is now eight years old and I enjoy watching it grow each year and keeping the ivy from climbing its slender trunk.

The Ash has quite slender leaves, aligned in pairs on opposite sides of the stem. As a deciduous tree, it loses its leaves in autumn, although it is one of the more easily recognisable trees in winter when bare. This is thanks to the large black buds it develops during this season.

In Ireland, the Ash grows to around 25 to 30 metres and can have a width of some 20 metres. Of course, its wood, strong and flexible, is used to make hurls (although the wood is now mostly imported from The Baltic States).

Ash tree in autumn, Mayo

Ash tree in autumn, Mayo

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2 Responses

  1. Nice to get an education in the Irish trees. I found you while googling sitka spruce, one of our natives here in the Pacific Northwest of North America. Does it like the Emerald Isle?

    • Hi Dan,
      Conifers, such as Sitka Spruce, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine are not native to Ireland, but very heavily planted by the state-owned commercial forestry company.
      Ireland’s only native conifers are the Scots Pine and Yew (plus Juniper, if you like to consider it a ‘tree’).
      Early Irish governments decided that land suitable for agricultural production should not be planted with trees. The only lands available for forestry, therefore, were bogs and marginal uplands, where, due to acidity, only conifers could thrive.
      Non-native conifers are very much unloved by the Irish people, who would much prefer to see far more Oak, Ash and so on.

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