Common Name(s): White Ash, American White Ash
Scientific Name: Fraxinus americana
Distribution: Eastern North America
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-5 ft (.6-1.5 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 42 lbs/ft3 (675 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .55, .67
Janka Hardness: 1,320 lbf (5,870 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 15,000 lbf/in2 (103.5 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,740,000 lbf/in2 (12.00 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 7,410 lbf/in2 (51.1 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.9%, Tangential: 7.8%, Volumetric: 13.3%, T/R Ratio: 1.6
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.
Grain/Texture: Has a medium to coarse texture similar to oak. The grain is almost always straight and regular, though sometimes moderately curly or figured boards can be found.
Endgrain: Ring-porous; large earlywood pores 2-4 rows wide, small latewood pores solitary and radial multiples; tyloses common; parenchyma banded (marginal), paratracheal parenchyma around latewood pores vasicentric, winged and confluent; narrow rays, spacing normal.
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: Can have 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.
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.
White Ash has excellent shock resistance, and along with hickory (Carya spp.), it is one of the most commonly used hardwoods for tool handles in North America—particularly in shovels and hammers where toughness and impact resistance is important.
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.
- Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)
- Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata)
- European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
- Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
- Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia)
- Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda)
- Tamo Ash (Fraxinus mandshurica)