Skip to main content
You are here
Facebook icon
Pinterest icon
Twitter icon

Fraxinus excelsior (European ash)

One of Europe's largest native deciduous trees, European ash provides tough, elastic timber that is widely used for furniture and also used to make tennis racquets and cricket stumps.
Fraxinus excelsior (European ash) in Germany

European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in the Burgwald, Hesse, Germany (Photo: Willow, licensed under CC BY 2.5)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Fraxinus excelsior L.

Common name: 

European ash, common ash, ash

Conservation status: 

Not assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria; widespread and abundant, but threatened by spread of 'chalara ash dieback'.


Woodland, scrub, hedgerows.

Key Uses: 

Timber, ornamental.

Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Fraxinus

About this species

One of Europe’s largest native deciduous trees, European ash is valued for its strong, elastic timber. Its petal-less, wind-pollinated flowers open on bare branches in about April, and the leaves do not break from their buds until about a month later. The characteristic bunches of winged fruits, commonly known as keys, dangle from the branches in late summer and autumn.

Long seen as a common, resilient, rapidly-growing tree, its future is now uncertain due to the appearance of the fungal disease commonly known as ‘chalara ash dieback’. The pathogen responsible for this disease has been identified as Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (originally described as Chalara fraxinea, hence the frequent use of this name in the popular literature). This fungal disease has caused widespread damage to European ash populations and is still spreading. Infected trees cannot be cured, although some individuals appear to be genetically resistant to the disease and show few symptoms.


Fraxinus excelsior var. communis Aiton, Fraxinus excelsior var. pendula-variegata de Vos


main info

Courses at Kew

Students learn about plant taxonomy and identification

Kew offers a variety of specialist training courses in horticulture, conservation and plant science.

Why People Need Plants

image of book cover

A compelling book from Kew Publishing that explores the crucial role that plants play in the everyday lives of all of us.