A review of European ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.): implications for silviculture

D. Dobrowolska, S. Hein, A. Oosterbaan, S. Wagner, J. Clark, J.P. Skovsgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


European ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) is common throughout much of Europe and is a valuable broadleaved tree due to its ecological characteristics, outstanding wood properties and high economic value. It is a fast growing species, associated with several forest types and with a scattered distribution in many different forest communities. In this review, we sum up essential characteristics of European ash, relevant to the further development of silvicultural practices. The paper covers site requirements, regeneration and stand establishment, growth dynamics and wood quality, and health and robustness. The review also highlights implications for silviculture and summarizes new information on ash dieback, a phenomenon which is observed in many European countries. Ash grows best on fertile, pH-neutral, deep, freely drained soils and such sites should be favoured if the aim is for high quality timber. Ash grows well at wide spacing which can result in enlarged ring width and increased latewood percentage, making the wood denser and stronger. Relatively short rotations may be recommended, depending on site, to avoid black heart: for example, a harvesting diameter of 60 cm can be reached within 60–75 years at 60–80 ash crop trees per ha. Universal recommendations are therefore for wide spacing with heavy, regular thinning in order to get a large diameter within a relatively short rotation. The necessity for pruning depends on the stand density at establishment and the subsequent thinning regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-148
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • acer-pseudoplatanus l.
  • north-temperate forests
  • beech fagus-sylvatica
  • natural regeneration
  • angustifolia vahl
  • broadleaved trees
  • site factors
  • fruit dispersal
  • ground flora
  • early growth

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