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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Fraxinus spp. (Esche, ash, fresno)

Nomenclature etc. OLEACEAE. F. excelsior L. (Syn.: F. floribunda Wall.); F. ornus L. (Syn.: Ornus europaea Pers.); F. americana L.; F. pennsylvanica Marsh.; F. nigra Marsh. (Syn.: F. sambucifolia Lam.). Trade and local names: F. excelsior: Europäische Esche, einheimische Esche, gemeine Esche (DE), Europees essen (NL), frêne commun (FR), common ash (GB), frassino maggiore (IT), fresno comun (ES), dischbudak (TR), daban gondjeschk (IR), sum (PK), hum (IN); F. americana: (Amerikanische) Weißesche (D), (American) white ash (GB, US), frêne d' Amérique (FR); F. pennsylvanica: amerikanische Grünesche (DE), green ash, red ash (GB, US); F. nigra: Korbesche, (Amerikanische) Schwarzesche (DE), brown ash, black ash (US), frene noir (FR), frassino negro (IT); F. ornus: (Ungarische) Blumenesche (DE); F. mandshurica: Mandschurische Esche (DE); tamo (JP). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Description based on 22 specimens. Tree. Geographic distribution: Europe, excl. Mediterranean, Mediterranean incl. N. Africa and Middle East, temperate Asia, and North America (F. americana, F. pennsylvanica, F. nigra).

General. Growth ring boundaries distinct. Heartwood basically brown to yellow to white or grey (F. mandshurica, F. ornus, F. nigra usually with darker wood than other species). Sapwood colour similar to heartwood colour. Density 0.41–0.62–0.82 g/cm³.

Vessels. Vessels present. Wood ring-porous. Vessels arranged in no specific pattern, in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Average tangential vessel diameter 54–120–345 µm. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 3.5–4.5 µm. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders, similar to intervessel pits. Helical thickenings absent. Tyloses in vessels present, thinwalled.

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 150–1600 µm. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered or distinctly bordered. Fibres non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded and not banded. Axial parenchyma bands marginal (or seemingly marginal). Axial parenchyma paratracheal (distinct only in latewood). Paratracheal axial parenchyma vasicentric, aliform, and confluent. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand (4–)6–8 (individual cells mostly square).

Rays. Rays 5–9 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), 1–4 cells wide. Height of large rays up to 500 µm. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent.

Storied structures. Storied structure absent.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals not observed. Silica not observed.

Illustrations. • Macro images. Fraxinus excelsior. Transverse. Tangential. • Transverse section. Fraxinus excelsior. • Tangential section. Fraxinus excelsior. • Radial section. Fraxinus excelsior.


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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