fraxinus americana L.
From baseball bats to lacrosse sticks, from splint baskets to tool handles, wood from the ash tree has been a staple of woodworkers across the country. Sadly, it’s under attack from the Emerald Ash Borer and millions of trees have already been lost.
Characteristic half-moon exit holes:
Here are a couple of links which speak further of the Emerald Ash Borer, its range, and controls:
Locally, the borer’s damage hasn’t been acutely felt yet. Irina and Alexey from Salicicola have shot some great images of white ash, including the fine specimen below from Lenox, MA:
This truly has become an urgent matter–we may be witnessing the demise of a species–which makes using ash an almost philosophical quandary. Peter Follansbee, joiner here at The Plant, touched on this very subject in his recent post about ash, If it aint oak… Please have a look at Peter’s blog if you haven’t already. It’s an inspiration. The respectful use of this beautiful tree, being made into long-lasting chairs and baskets, is one way to honor it.
A local baseball bat-making business, The Barnstable Bat Company, has begun making bats out of yellow birch–who knew? Yellow birch compresses and hardens in the “sweet spot” of the bat through use. Everyone is affected by the borer and those who have traditionally used ash are adapting. Perhaps the “crack of the bat” will mean a very different thing to the next generation.
The other morning, I came across Mark at our saw-pit. He’d just come out of the woods where he’d been planting native white oak acorns in various locations around our campus. We control what we can, and think about those who will follow us.
Here is the video The Riven Word made of Peter Follansbee pounding a section of ash into basket splints. Even if you will never make a basket from white ash splints, you will appreciate Peter’s admiration for this incredible tree, and his deeply abiding respect for its wonderful qualities. If we are seeing the last days of fraxinus americana L. , I cannot think of a better appreciation for this tree’s unique gifts to us.
6 months later, co-worker Eva Lipton is still in our thoughts and prayers:
There will be a gospel-choir fundraiser on Saturday, November 10th in Marshfield. Gospel in Marsh-Vegas??? It promises to be an amazing event to support Eva and her family. Click the link below for more information: