The third most common tree in Britain is of course ubiquitous around Otley, but this may well change dramatically as Ash Dieback spreads and threatens to cost the UK economy £15 billion pounds (Current Biology vol 29). This is due not only to the cost of felling and replanting, but also the loss of “ecosystem services” such as timber, flood mitigation and shading. The wood is strong, resilient and flexible, and used to make furniture, staircases, tool and sports handles, and even some guitar bodies (eg Bruce Springsteen’s Telecaster on the Born To Run album cover). Early plane and car frames were made of Ash. It lights and burns easily on campfires and barbecues, but don’t hang around under an Ash on a wild and windy day, as they are prone to losing limbs. The trees are valuable as a habitat to other wildlife and then there is their ability to lock in carbon as we fight climate change. Interestingly, they are in the Olive family and produce an oil chemically similar to olive oil.
Photos by Neil Griffin and Pixabay