From world tree to extinction?

The ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is a native, noble broadleaf tree that, since 2015, is classified as endangered in Sweden. In Norse mythology, the ash was depicted as the tree of life, Yggdrasil, which carried the world of gods and men in its’ branches. Moreover, the first man was, according to these tales, created from an ash which Oden found on a beach. The title tree of life is still fitting, since a newly published report shows that to replace the ashes in the Swedish forest ecosystem, 9 other tree species are needed. In summary, the ash is a very important tree species both ecologically and historically for Sweden.

The ash is characterized by its’ leaves and dark buds. Sometimes it is called the King Tree, since it is “the last to arrive and first to leave”. Additionally, the ash is well known for its’ wood properties. Due to its' strength and flexibility, the material is commonly used for e.g. hockey sticks and tool handles.


Learn more about the ash by visiting the sites below.

Hultberg, T., Sandström, J., Felton, A., Öhman, K., Rönnberg, J., Witzell., J., Cleary, M. 2020. Ash dieback risks an extinction cascade. Biological Conservation 244: 1-9.

Cleary, M., Nguyen, D., Stener, L-G., Stenlid, J., Skovsgaard, JP. 2017. Ash and ash dieback in Sweden: A review on disease history, current status, pathogen and host dynamics, host tolerance and management options in forests and landscapes. In: Vasaitis, R., Enderle, R. (Eds.), Dieback of European Ash (Fraxinus spp.) - Consequences and Guidlines for Sustainable Management. pp. 195-208.