Narrow leaved ash is a decidious tree and native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia. Across Exeter (UK) it is planted as an ornemental tree and is often found in parks and green spaces. It can also be planted as a street tree as the roots are more tolerant of drier soil conditions as well as being able to manage with compacted soil. However, the branches are known to be brittle so good care and maitenance will be needed if they are planted in a street. There is a particularly stunning Narrow leaved ash 'Raywood' cultivar by the edge of the Mary Archers car park in the city centre.
It is a medium sized tree for the best part with heights ranging from 20m to 30m. In urban environments they rarely get to their full size due to the brittle nature of the branches so they are often 'reduced' in size or in some cases felled. The trunk diameter can reach up to 1.5m when fully mature. The bark is fairly smooth and pale grey when the tree is young but as it matures the bark becomes slightly furrowed with squareish plates.
As per the common name the leaves are narrow - in comparison to Common ash. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs or whorls of three. The leaves are pinnate and 15–25 cm long and there are usually 3 to 13 leaflets but often 11 are present. The leaflets are narrow and around 3 - 8cm in length and around 1 - 1.5cm in width. When in leaf these trees really stand out are very easy to distnguish from other species of Ash tree. The Raywood cultivar is particualry stunning during late September to October where the leaves turn to a wine red / purple colour.
These male flowers have released their pollen and will soon be shed by the tree
The brown buds are a key characterstic of this species of Ash
The flowers of Narrow leaved ash are essentially the same as Common ash and other species. They are very unusual and often go unnoticed. They appear in the early spring and are coral like formations of green and red / purple. They are typically in nature dioecious so the trees aretypically either all male or all female. In some cases the trees can have both male and female flowers. Also, one year it could be a male tree and the next year a female tree - or vice versa. So a very diverse tree when it comes to the flowers. The buds are pale brown whereas they are black with Common ash.
Sadly Narrow leaved ash is susceptible to Ash dieback. Currently Ash dieback is ravaging our Common ash trees throughout Exeter and Devon. Although some Ash trees are resistant - these are often cut down in the masses. It is a shame that our Government is spending billions of pounds on HS2 and destroying ancient wooland rather than investing the money into better controls and remedies for Ash Dieback. Another example that the Economy is more important than the Environment when it comes to UK politics.
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