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ASH, OLIVE

Fraxinus excelsior


A NOTE ABOUT ASH SPECIES IN THE USA



Fraxinus excelsior of the family Oleaceae, the Olive family.

Of the 50 or so species in the genus Fraxinus that are called ash, one way or another, one of them, Fraxinus excelsior, gives rise the one particular FORM of ash that is called "olive ash" but NOT all Fraxinus excelsior is "olive ash" (but all genuine "olive ash" IS F. excelsior). When F. excelsior is in a form that is not what is called "olive ash", it has many common names including European ash, or sometimes a country designation such as English ash, Italian ash, etc.

NOTE: some references say that "olive ash" is NOT a specific ash species but rather refers to swirly dark heartwood from several species of ash that grow in Europe, including Fraxinus excelsior. I believe this is mistaken. My own statement is in accordance with Wood Identification and Use, by Terry Porter, page 115 and also The Encyclopedia of Wood, Edited by Aiden Walker, page 103, both of which say that "olive ash" is SPECIFICALLY the heartwood of Fraxinus excelsior and only when it is swirly. Several other reference books list Fraxinus excelsior as olive ash but do not rule out other species using that name, but only, I think, because it did not occur to the authors that anyone would think that it needed mentioning.

Because this is not a site about botany, but a site about wood, I choose to list olive ash on its own page apart from ash even though "olive ash" is not a species. I also do this for bird's eye maple, for example, and a few other wood forms that are not species.

where I have found woods listed as F. excelsior and they are clearly not olive ash, I have made a note to that effect.

Because of the way that this form of ash often is found in widly swirling grain patterns but without the dark areas that generally lead to the olive ash designation, it is sometimes arguable whether or not a particular piece should be called olive ash. There is not, as far as I am aware and "standard" or set of rules that specify exactly what is and what is not olive ash. It's all F. excelsior, after all.



my samples:


both sides of a sample plank of European ash / Fraxinus excelsior, and which is clearly "olive" ash --- in fact, had I seem this with no ID, I would likely have believed it was olivewood.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of European ash / Fraxinus excelsior --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This plank is "normal" European ash rather than "olive ash", which as I mentioned is often the case with Fraxinus excelsior.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of curly English ash / Fraxinus excelsior --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This is "normal" European ash (OK, English in this case), not olive ash, although really it DOES look a bit like olivewood, so it's somewhat arguable as to whether it could be called olive ash.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of European ash / Fraxinus excelsior --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This is "normal" European ash, not olive ash, and does not look like olive wood.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


entirely bookmatched box shot in a craft store and a closeup of the top --- enlargements are present


olive ash burl veneers with pretty accurate color --- I have been told anecdotally that "olive ash burl" is a designation given to ugly ash burl at the outside of a burl. All I know from direct experience is that veneer sold as ash burl has the appearance of a very high-grain flat cut figure whereas that sold as "olive ash burl" may be just the swirl figure (as in these samples directly above), but more typically has the eyes normally associated with a burl figure (see many samples directly below), and is indeed frequently what I think most of us would agree is ugly.


olive ash burl veneer book matched pair, slightly more rich and golden than the real wood.


olive ash burl veneer; colors are accurate


olive ash burl veneer; colors are accurate


olive ash burl veneer --- colors are accurate


wavy olive ash burl veneer sheet and closeup


olive ash burl veneer and closeup


olive ash burl veneer and closeup


a wavy olive ash veneer that actually has wavy grain (this is rare); color is accurate



web pics:


planks


fiddleback olive ash veneer


olive ash veneer


bookmatched olive ash veneer


olive ash veneer, all from the same vendor


olive ash veneer sheet closeups with both levels of enlargement. All of these are from the same vendor as the set directly above. The last of these was not labled as curly, but would be sold as such by most vendors.




veneer sheets, all from the same vendor and all labled as olive ash / Fraxinus excelsior


bookmatched veneers, flat cut and flat cut figured


veneer pieces, quartersawn and quartersawn figured

burl veneer





fiddleback olive ash veneer


olive ash burl


olive ash burl veneer


olive ash burl veneer all from the same vendor and all listed as olive ash / Fraxinum excelsior


burl veneer listed as olive ash / Fraxinus excelior


listed as ash burl veneer bowl turning blanks, I believe these are probably F. excelsior and should be called olive ash burl.




All of the pieces in this section are Fraxinus excelsior, but are NOT "olive" ash


veneer listed as "European olive ash" which actually doesn't quite make sense. It should be either European ash or olive ash and for this piece it's European ash.


end grain


planks listed as olive ash / Fraxinum excelsior


planks listed as European ash


burl veneer and quartersawn burl veneer --- that quartersawn "burl" clearly isn't a burl; all of this was listed as Fraxinum excelsior but just ash, not olive ash


quartersawn figured veneer, flat cut figured veneer, and flat cut veneer; all of this was listed as Fraxinum excelsior but just ash, not olive ash. That middle piece is one that some vendors would call olive ash because of the swirls even though it has no dark areas.

All of the pieces in this section are Fraxinus excelsior, but are NOT "olive" ash





12"x2" shallow bowl by Steve Earis; BIG enlargements are present. Although Steve has this as olive ash, this is one of those pieces that I believe is a toss-up as to whether it is more appropriately called European ash. Personally, I'd call it European ash because there's not enough swirl to justify the olive ash designation, but some vendors would definitely call it olive ash.