Monday 19 September 2011
The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) or (Agrilus marcopoli) is a shiny green beetle native to Asia. Since its accidental introduction into the United States, it has killed at least 25 million ash trees so far and threatens to kill most of the ash trees throughout North America
As an 'elastic' hardwood, ash is quite the unique material, and has been extensively used for making bows, tool handles, and quality wooden baseball bats: although cedar is used too for the latter, it's usually ash you'll see out on home plate!
Although ash burns incredibly well with almost no smoke at all, don't bin it just yet! The wood is used extensively in veneering of office furniture and the like, and produces wonderful results at not too high a cost to your good self!
In Norse mythology, the World Tree Yggdrasil is commonly held to be an ash tree, and the first man, Ask, was formed from an ash tree. Elsewhere in Europe, snakes were said to be repelled by ash leaves or a circle drawn by an ash branch. In Cheshire, it is said that ash could be used to cure warts or rickets.
According to Paul Kendall on the Trees for Life website in British folklore the ash was credited with a range of protective and healing properties, most frequently related to child health. Newborn babies were popularly given a teaspoon of ash sap. Poorly children, especially those suffering with rupture or weak limbs, would be passed naked through a cleft in an ash tree or ash sapling, to cure them. The cleft was often specifically made for the purpose and bound together again after the ceremony to heal over as the child also healed. Some folklore then suggested an intimate bond between the welfare and fate of the now related tree and person, with harm to the tree being reflected in the healed person's life, leading people to become understandably protective of 'their' ash tree.
Images, from top to bottom:
1. Ash foliage
2. The emerald ash borer has killed at least 25 million ash trees so far
3. Ash has been used extensively for making bows, tool handles, and quality wooden baseball bats
4. An ash kitchen worktop
5. The Yggdrasil, or world tree, was believed to be located at the centre of the universe
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