The compound leaf of the black ash, note the lack of stalk on the base of each leaflet

The Black Ash is a deciduous tree that may reach a height of 16 m and a diameter of 30 cm. It has compound, opposite leaves, with finely toothed, sessile leaflets that have tufts of brown hair at their base. Mature bark is ridged corky and easily indented by a fingernail.

Black Ash grows in seasonally flooded, or swampy areas of mixed-wood and hardwood forest habitat with some nutrient richness. Common places to find black ash are; at the base of hardwood slopes, in floodplains, and along streams. There are approximately a dozen known populations of Black Ash scattered throughout Nova Scotia. Black Ash is often found growing with White Ash, which has leaflets that have a short stem, generally bear few teeth along their edges and lack brown hairs at their base.

Ridged and corky bark of a black ash

Along with White Ash, Black Ash is one of the last trees to get its leaves in the spring, and among the first to lose them in the fall. Its wood has a porous quality that makes it very suitable for basket-making; the Mi’kmaq have used Black Ash for basket-making for hundreds of years. If you have a pocket of black ash on your land, you should try your best to protect it so the species doesn’t disappear from Nova Scotia.

How You Can Help:

Compound leaf showing petiole and leaflets

Learn how to identify Black Ash, report location of sightings, and choose to harvest other species if possible. Use uneven age management practices in woodlots. Maintain natural floodplains and rich upland habitats. To reduce introducing or spreading invasive alien species that can harm black ash (and white ash), avoiding long-distance movement of wood (such as firewood) that may carry exotic insects or diseases.

Helpful Links:

Like with any species at risk in Nova Scotia you can register the presence of black ash on your farm by emailing Nova Scotia’s Species at Risk program at: sightings@speciesatrisk.ca