Common Name(s): Blue Ash
Scientific Name: Fraxinus quadrangulata
Distribution: Midwestern United States
Tree Size: 50-80 ft (15-25 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 40 lbs/ft3 (640 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .53, .64
Janka Hardness: 1,290 lbf (5,740 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 13,800 lbf/in2 (95.2 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,400,000 lbf/in2 (9.66 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 6,980 lbf/in2 (48.1 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 3.9%, Tangential: 6.5%, Volumetric: 11.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.7
Color/Appearance: The heartwood is a light to medium brown color. Sapwood can be very wide, and tends to be a beige or light brown; not always clearly or sharply demarcated from heartwood. Blue Ash tends to be a bit darker in color than the White Ash (Fraxinus americana) pictured above.
Grain/Texture: Has a medium to coarse texture similar to oak. The grain is almost always straight and regular, though sometimes curly or figured boards can be found.
Rot Resistance: Heartwood is rated as perishable, or only slightly durable in regard to decay. Ash is also not resistant to insect attack.
Workability: Produces good results with hand or machine tools. Responds well to steam bending. Glues, stains, and finishes well.
Odor: Gives off a distinct, moderately unpleasant smell when being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Ash in the Fraxinus genus has been reported to cause skin irritation, and a decrease in lung function. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Ash is among the least expensive utility hardwoods available domestically; it should compare similarly to oak in terms of price.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as critically endangered due to a projected population reduction of over 80% in the next three generations, caused by effects of introduced taxa. (See notes on the emerald ash borer in the comments section below.)
Common Uses: Flooring, millwork, boxes/crates, baseball bats, and other turned objects such as tool handles.
Comments: The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), believed to have been inadvertently introduced from Asia sometime in the 1990s, was first detected in Michigan in 2002. Lacking natural predators, uncontrolled populations of this invasive species spread very rapidly throughout North America, devastating local populations of ash trees. The beetles’ larvae bore into a tree and feed on the inner bark, eventually killing the entire tree. The insects are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of ash trees across the United States and Canada. Green Ash and Black Ash trees are preferentially attacked by the insects, followed by White Ash and Blue Ash.
Blue Ash is one of a handful of species in the Fraxinus genus that are used as commercial lumber. It’s not quite as strong or dense as the related White Ash (Fraxinus americana).
When stained, ash can look very similar to oak (Quercus spp.), although oaks have much wider rays, which are visible on all wood surfaces—even on flatsawn surfaces, where they appear as short, thin brown lines between the growth rings. Ashes lack these conspicuous rays.
A non-native green beetle known as the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) was first identified in 2002 and has been responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of ash trees across the United States and Canada. Uncontrolled populations of the larvae bore into the tree and feed on the inner bark, eventually killing it. Green Ash and Black Ash trees are preferentially attacked by the insects, followed by White Ash and Blue Ash.
- Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)
- European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
- Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
- Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia)
- Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda)
- Tamo Ash (Fraxinus mandshurica)
- White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Scans/Pictures: There are currently no pictures of this exact wood species, but a similar species within the Fraxinus genus is being substituted (F. americana). If you’d like to contribute a wood sample of this specific species to be scanned, (even small pieces of veneer can be sent), please use the contact form.
Would you like a picture of Blue Ash? I have some in my shop.
Thanks for the offer, but I have since managed to get a sample of this wood, it’s just that I’ve not yet gotten around to uploading it to the site just yet!