Herb: White Ash

Latin name: Fraxinus americana

Synonyms: Fraxinus acuminata, Fraxinus alba, Fraxinus juglandifolia

Family: Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Medicinal use of White Ash:

The bark is astringent, emmenagogue and a bitter tonic. An infusion is used to promote menstruation. It has also been used as a wash to treat skin sores, itches and vermin on the scalp. The inner bark is diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic and strongly laxative. It is used as a tea to remove bile from the intestines, as a tonic after childbirth and to relieve stomach cramps and fevers. It is chewed and applied as a poultice to sores. The leaves are used to soothe the itching caused by mosquito bites and bee stings. The seeds are thought to be aphrodisiac.

Description of the plant:


25 m
(82 feet)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Rich upland to lowland woods. Usually found in association with other hardwood trees in well-drained soils on slopes.

Edible parts of White Ash:

A bitter tasting syrup is drawn from the tree. The report gives no more details and does not directly say that the syrup was used as food. It was quite possibly only used medicinally.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves are said to repel rattlesnakes and have been worn on the feet of people travelling in rattlesnake country. There are some doubts over the efficacy of this. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark. Wood - strong, hard, heavy, tough, elastic, close grained, moderately durable. It weighs 41lb per cubic foot, seasons well, takes a good polish and is shock resistant. One of the most valuable of the North American timbers, it is much used for tool handles, hockey sticks, baseball bats, the interior of buildings, musical instruments, furniture, woodenware etc. As a fuel it is comparable in quality to such excellent species as oak (Quercus spp) and hickory (Carya spp).

Propagation of White Ash:

The seed is best harvested green - as soon as it is fully developed but before it has fully dried on the tree - and can then be sown immediately in a cold frame. It usually germinates in the spring. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification and is best sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions or a nursery bed in late spring or early summer of the following year. If you have sufficient seed then it is possible to sow it directly into an outdoor seedbed, preferably in the autumn. Grow the seedlings on in the seedbed for 2 years before transplanting either to their permanent positions or to nursery beds.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rich upland to lowland woods. Usually found in association with other hardwood trees in well-drained soils on slopes.

Known hazards of Fraxinus americana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.