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Ash

Ash is a common tree in fresh woods and hedges. It is very easy to find in Europe.

The Ash, a tree that is easily identified and has many virtues.

ORIGINS OF ASH TREE

The High Ash (or Common Ash) is a tree native to Europe. Unfortunately, little is known about the history of the Ash, its discovery and its importation into the world.

Like many other plants and trees, the Ash is however a bearer of legends. The most famous is the one directly taken from Nordic mythology where it is found under the name of "Yggdrasil". Legend tells that its roots were abundantly watered by the rivers of Wisdom and Destiny. Although they plunge underground into a hellish world, the Ash's roots are supposed to acclimatize to this difficult part of the world through their divine watering. The trunk that rises in the air holds the Earth and its crown the sky. It is said in this legend that the gods pass over a rainbow to come and do justice to men in the shadow of the Ash.

Another legend indicates that Ash was used to frighten snakes. This anecdote is told to us by Pliny in his book "Natural History": "If you lock a snake next to a fire in a circle of Ash leaves, it throws itself into the flames rather than into the Ash. By a wonderful kindness of nature, the Ash flowers before the snakes emerge and loses its leaves only after they have retired. ». Legend even goes so far as to say that snakes avoided passing too close to an Ash tree in the wild and even crawling on its shadow. It is also said that Ash can heal from a snake bite because its leaves are able to stop the effect of the animal's venom.

From a historical and more realistic point of view, we know that Ash bark was used as a febrifuge before the 19th century. It was before the discovery of cinchona that the bark of ash branches was used for this purpose, thanks to its bitter and astringent properties. It is this use that gave the tree its popular name "European cinchona".

It is known that Ash was considered an effective treatment for injuries. The sap from the Ash leaves and its fruits were used to act against rheumatism. Ash was also used to cure umbilical hernias in infants.

Ash was first used in the treatment of gout disease in the 19th century. Due to an overload of uric acid in the body, often linked to the excesses of gourmands and gourmets, gout disease is nowadays treated by more specific treatments, but Ash leaves are still used as gemmotherapy for their beneficial diuretic properties.

 

ASH CHARACTERISTICS

Name: Fraxinus excelsior
Family: Oleaceae
Species: tree of the genus Fraxinus

The Ash is a beautiful tree that can reach up to 35 metres in height. The Ash can live for 150 to 200 years. Some reach up to one metre in diameter. It is very frequently planted in Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is easily identified by its opposite branches, large black buds and leaves composed of acute and toothed leaflets. Its fruit is a hanging samara, containing an elongated seed.

Ash leaves contain tannins, coumarins and flavonoids. The leaves of this tree are called diuretics, they have well-known antirheumatic properties.

The Ash blooms during April and May. The pollination of this species is done by wind, as is the dispersal of seeds. The Ash flowers have a beautiful reddish-brown colour and ripen in elongated bunches.

There are several species of Ash. The most common are those of the High Ash, also known as the "Common Ash". It is mainly found along riversides, on shaded fields, in forests, in plains, in valleys... The Elevated Ash is a very common species in Europe. It is even able to grow in mountain forests where the development of a tree that fears frost and cold is rare.

Ash needs a deep, fresh to moist soil rich in minerals. It is a tree that needs a lot of light.

The Manna Ash, another known species of Ash, grows mainly in the south of France and in the Midi region. It is also found in Italy and further south in Europe. It gives a sweet sap that exudes spontaneously from the trunk or is obtained by incisions and harvested in summer. This sap, nicknamed the "manna in tears", offers a sweet and slightly bland flavour. It is said that the "Ancients" also called it "air honey" or "dew honey" in reference to its sweetness.

 

USES OF ASH

We have been making a pleasant sparkling drink based on Ash for a very long time in our French countryside. It is known as "Frênette". The recipe today consists of a mixture of lemonade and a few Ash leaves. Some people like to add Chicory or roasted Barley to it. A few years ago, people did things a little differently to make the Frênette: they harvested the honeydew produced by aphids that collected on the Ash leaves that they fermented with water for a few days. This concentrated, gummy and sweet sap has a delicious malty taste. Ash leaves were therefore not always used in the original recipe.

Ash bark is used for its tonic and febrifuge properties. Mixed with boiling water, Ash bark is a pleasant drink to enjoy as an infusion. If the use of the tree's bark remains rare, its leaves are obviously used today for herbal infusions. Their taste goes very well with plants such as Mint, Meadowsweet or Blackcurrant. Ash can also be consumed as a medicinal wine, for those who prefer cold consumption.

More original but outdated use today, Ash resilient wood was used to create tool handles.

Ash is also one of the ingredients used in gastronomy. These are the leaves that come into play. Their refreshing qualities are appreciated in dishes served in spring or summer. Ash bark is also edible.

 

BENEFITS OF ASH

Ash has several virtues. Ash is known for its diuretic properties, ideal for fighting diseases such as gout but also, from a more aesthetic point of view, against cellulite.

Its anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic properties have also long been praised: it is said that Ash can help relieve osteoarthritis, arthritis, etc.

 

Find our Ash products with the Pagès "Articulations" organic herbal tea. This drink combines Turmeric, Meadowsweet, Ash leaves and Mint. This cocktail of plants with multiple benefits is characterized by its particularly fresh and slightly spicy taste.