There are quite a number of Common Ashes in the Cemetery, many of which are
probably self-seeded. Most of them are quite young.
The Common Ash is a large deciduous tree, native to Britain and most of Europe and
SW Asia. It can grow to around 35m. It is a member of the Olive Family, which
contains many scented flowering shrubs like Lilac and Jasmine and has scented white
flowers, which appear in early May. The bark is pale grey and smooth when young. It
has bright green compound leaves, made up of 9-11 lance-shaped leaflets. These are
amongst the last to open in spring, after the flowers. The large black buds are very
distinctive in winter and make this tree easy to identify. In autumn, mature trees are
covered with bunches of winged seeds, commonly known as keys. It propagates very
freely and many of the ashes in the Cemetery are self-seeded rather than plant.
Mythology and Folklore of the Ash
In English folklore the coming into leaf of the Ash and the Oak were used to forecast
the summer weather:
“Oak before ash, in for a splash
Ash before oak, in for a soak”
In Norse mythology, the World Tree, Yggdrasil, is a gigantic Ash, whose branches
reach far into the heavens. Beneath its huge trunk the Ash is supported by three
roots, which reach down to three wells deep within the bowels of the earth and
around the tree are the 9 worlds. The chief of the Norse gods, Odin, speared himself
to the Yggdrasil for nine days and nine nights, in order to receive the wisdom that
would give him power over the 9 worlds. Legend tells that by this act of self-sacrifice
the mystery of the runes was given to him.

Tree Trail Stop 4: Common Ash