Herb: Black Ash

Latin name: Fraxinus nigra

Synonyms: Fraxinus sambucifolia

Family: Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Medicinal use of Black Ash:

The leaves are diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative. They should be gathered in June, well dried and stored in airtight containers. The inner bark has been used as a tonic for the liver and stomach, to check vaginal discharge and to treat painful urination. An infusion of the inner bark has been used as an eye wash for sore eyes.

Description of the plant:


25 m
(82 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Deep cold swamps, river banks and shores, tolerating some standing water.

Other uses of Black Ash:

Logs of wood can be beaten with mauls to separate the growth layers, these layers can then be cut into strips and woven into baskets. A blue dye can be obtained from the bark. Wood - not strong, rather soft, durable, heavy, tough, coarse-grained, easily separated into thin layers. It weighs 39lb per cubic foot. Largely used for making furniture, cabinet making, interior finish and veneer. The wood makes a good fuel, it does not crackle or shoot sparks like many other woods. If the wood is soaked in water and then pounded, it separates easily into thin sheets. These sheets have then been used to make woven baskets, barrel hoops, chair seats etc.

Propagation of the herb:

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 Black Ash:

Deep cold swamps, river banks and shores, tolerating some standing water.

Known hazards of Fraxinus nigra:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.