The ashes are a large genus of hardy, fast-growing deciduous trees, mainly native of the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere countries. Many of the large-growing species make stately parkland trees, noted for their elegant, large, pinnate leaves, while the flowering ashes form interesting and attractive summer-flowering specimens of more moderate growth. They are generally happy in any fertile soil, and are tolerant equally of town conditions, seaside and exposed localities and moist situations.
Fraxinus excelsior, the common ash, is a familiar large and handsome tree for parkland or similar circumstances, with typical long pinnate leaves and distinct black winter buds. Some of its forms are suitable for gardens. Aurea (jaspidea), the golden-barked ash, makes a compact small tree of slow growth, notable for its yellow young shoots and yellowish winter bark. The leaves turn clear yellow in the autumn. Pendula, the weeping ash, is a vigorous weeping tree, usually forming a wide-spreading mound of stiffly pendulous branches. It is excellent as a lawn specimen where there is ample room for its development.
F. mariesii is perhaps the most ornamental of the flowering ashes bearing quantities of cream-white flowers at midsummer, followed by unusual fruits which quickly turn purple. It is a small tree with a rounded head, ideal for many gardens.
The manna ash, F. ornus, forms a medium-sized, round-headed tree and is the most commonly planted of the flowering ashes. White flowers are abundantly produced in late spring.
F. oxycarpa Raywood is a selected form of an elegant eastern European species, making a fine specimen tree of medium height, but compact and upright habit. The blue-green summer foliage turns purple in the autumn.
A striking and unusual Japanese flowering ash, F. spaethiana, forms a small to medium-sized tree, remarkable for its very large leaves and leaflets with distinctive swollen bases to the leaf stalks.