The ash ( Fraxinus ) is a genus of plants belonging to the family of Oleaceae which comprises 45-65 species. It is distributed in America, Europe, Asia and North Africa, in temperate forest ecosystems with some species adapted to the tropics.
It is a large deciduous tree with broad foliage, rough and greyish bark, lanceolate and serrated compound leaves, paniculate flowers and winged fruits. The word ash derives from the Latin Fraxinus .
The genus Fraxinus is often known as ash, common ash, true common ash, or broadleaf ash. In some regions it is called northern ash, European ash, raised ash, Vizcaya ash, fragino, fragino, fleja, frejú, frexno and frexo.
In the Iberian Peninsula and part of Europe, the species Fraxinus excelsior (Vizcaya ash) and Fraxinus ornus (flower ash) are common, with Fraxinus angustifolia (Castile ash or narrow-leaf ash) being more frequent and numerous .
Ash is a species used in carpentry and joinery, it is an excellent combustible material and is considered a honey plant. In the medicinal field it has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, astringent, antirheumatic, anthelmintic and laxative properties.
Ash is a tall tree -15 to 35 m- with an oval-shaped open crown and spreading branches. The trunk is straight, solid and cylindrical, with rough grayish bark and strongly cracked in older trees.
The compound leaves of 9 to 13 leaflets, with slightly toothed edges of bright green color, are deciduous in winter. The tiny flowers of both sexes lack petals and sepals, have shades of white to purple, and bloom from April to May.
The leaves sprout in the course of spring after flowering. The winged green fruits hang in clusters called samaras, when they mature they acquire brown color; the seeds are easy to harvest.
The presence of carbohydrates -dextrose, inositol, mannitol-, organic acids -malic acid- and pentacyclic triterpene -ursolic acid- is common in leaves and bark. Also some polyphenolic compounds, flavonic pigments -quercithin, rutosis, rutin-, coumarin heterosides, alkaloids -fraxin, fraxinol-, tannins, resins and essential oils.
Genus: Fraxinus Tourn. ex L.
Distribution and habitat
Ash ( Fraxinus ) is a genus native to North Africa that is distributed in the temperate regions of Europe, America and Asia. Some medium-sized evergreen species are found in some tropical areas.
It is a tree that is adapted to temperate climates and supports strong winds, however, it does not tolerate high temperatures and lack of humidity. It is located on the banks of rivers and streams, in slightly alkaline soils and humid forests.
Ash is a rustic tree highly resistant to attack by pests, diseases and environmental pollution . It is used in urban planning and gardening, as it adapts to different conditions; requires deep soils, with high content of moisture and organic matter .
The care that an ash tree requires is not limited to the selection of the planting site, which must be wide and clear. Cultural tasks, related to irrigation, fertilization, pruning and comprehensive control of pests and diseases must be taken into account.
The plant requires fertile soils, with a high content of organic matter, loose, deep, humid, slightly acidic or alkaline.
The establishment of ash tree plantations is done through fertile seeds. The seeds require a stratification process of 2 to 4 months at an average temperature of 4ºC.
The natural stratification of the seeds occurs during the winter; after several winter periods, germination occurs. Artificially, through cold stratification, effects similar to nature are achieved.
In natural environments the ash tree grows and develops near water sources, since they require abundant humidity. For this reason, plants grown in populated areas require constant watering in order to keep the roots moist.
Ash is very resistant to low temperatures and frost. However, it is not very tolerant of dry or very hot weather conditions.
Plants thrive in full sun exposure, although certain species require less radiation and more shading.
A partial or severe annual pruning is recommended depending on the age of the tree and the physical conditions of the plant. Formation pruning is essential to guide the shape of the tree during the first years.
Uses and applications
The various species of ash have multiple medicinal properties, being widely used for the preparation of home remedies. In addition, it produces a strong and elastic wood that is used for the elaboration of floors, veneers, canes, oars and handles of various utensils.
The leaves, bark, young shoots and fruits of the ash tree are used medicinally. This plant has analgesic, astringent, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, healing, diuretic and venotonic properties.
Ash leaves have been used since ancient times as a cure for different diseases. In the pharmacopoeia manual of Dioscorides, a Greek physician and botanist, the use of plasters is mentioned as a cure for viper bite.
In traditional medicine, the dried leaves are used in infusion or tea, and the decoctions of pieces of bark. Likewise, leaves and bark are ingredients in syrups, liquid extract, alcoholic tincture, organic oils, capsules, powders or as an ingredient in ointments and creams.
Ash is used as an analgesic to relieve inflammatory processes in joints and pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. The macerated leaves are applied topically in the form of compresses, creams or ointments.
The decoction or infusions of ash leaves have excellent diuretic and purifying properties. It is recommended to increase the flow of urine in case of promoting the elimination of urea from the body and kidney stones.
The application of macerates on the skin favors the cure of conditions such as dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, boils, wounds or eczema. In addition, it eliminates halitosis or bad breath. It prevents diseases of the liver and gallbladder.
The wood is strong, elastic and malleable, which provides an excellent ratio in terms of strength and quality. It is used in carpentry and joinery to make veneers, decorative coatings, handles for axes, rackets, canes, etc.
The wood is light in color with brown veins. It is a dense and flexible wood, with a smooth fiber and medium grain. Easy to machine and workable.
Ash wood is used for the manufacture of home furnishings, interior cladding, turning and decorative veneers. Its use is suitable for the manufacture of sporting goods, handles for various functional implements, agricultural tools, and automotive details.
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