Black Ash Wood (Fraxinus nigra): Uses, Properties, Pros, and Cons

The black ash tree is an important part of many types of forests and is linked to many other species across its range. Black Ash wood is undoubtedly this tree’s best and most valued product.

Black ash wood is tough, heavy, and smooth. It is used to finish walls and make cabinets. The wood strips are flattened and then used to make chair seats and woven baskets.

It is also used in carpentry and joinery, woodworking, sporting goods and tools of many kinds, wagon parts, machine frames, and ladders. Black ash is different from all other trees in North America because fibers do not connect its growth rings.

In bottomland systems, black ash trees are often found with American elm, red maple, and black willow. In swales and other lowland depressions, they are often found with northern white cedar, balsam fir, black spruce, eastern hemlock, yellow birch, and tamarack.

Fraxinus nigra is an ornamental tree because it makes good shade and looks nice, but it is not used very often because it needs a lot of water.

Why is it called black ash?

The old Latin name for this group of plants, Fraxinus, means “spear.” Since ash wood is strong and flexible, it was once used to make spears and bows.

The name of the species, nigra, means “black,” which is how the buds look. So, the plant’s name is “black ash.”

Black Ash is sold under other names

Other common names are swamp ash, basket ash, brown ash, hoop ash, and water ash.


Ash wood is cheaper than other hardwoods with the same qualities and should be about the same price as oak.


Black Ash Fraxinus nigra trees are native to the northeastern corner of the United States and Canada. They grow in swamps and wet areas with a lot of trees.

Slowly, the trees grow into tall, spindly trees with pretty leaves that look like feathers.


This type of wood is not on the CITES Appendices list, even though Since 2017, it has been listed as highly endangered on the IUCN Red List.

The Asian beetle Agrilus planipennis is causing problems for this species in the U.S. and Canada.

This xylophagous has killed more than 7 million ash trees in North America since the turn of the century.

Is Black Ash hard or softwood   

Wood type: hardwood.

The wood from deciduous trees, like ash, is very hard. Even though it is harder than oak, it is less water resistant.

You wouldn’t believe it, but baseball bats are made from the wood of this tree.

Black Ash wood stain    

Ash stains pretty well. Thanks to its large pores and prominent straight grain structure, it accepts any wood stain color and produces a wide range of beautiful shades.

Both water-based and basic oil stains can be used to evenly color ash wood furniture without making it look blotchy.

The grain pattern is very similar to oak, so it can be stained to look like oak. Black Ash wood can be painted with latex-based paint, just like other hardwoods.

To ensure the paint lasts for years, you must carefully prepare the wood for painting.

Once the wood is ready, you can paint it with any latex-based paint you want.

Black Ash Wood identification

Black Ash is a light-colored hardwood with a smooth grain and a medium to coarse texture, like oak. The grain is almost always straight and even, but sometimes you can find boards with a curly or figured grain.

Color and appearance

The heartwood is a color between light brown and medium brown.

Sapwood can be very wide and is usually beige or light brown. It is not always easy to tell the difference between sapwood and heartwood.

Black Ash is usually slightly darker than White Ash (Fraxinus Americana).


Less often, the parenchyma around latewood pores in Black Ash is vasicentric, winged, and confluent. The rays are narrow, and the spacing between them is normal.

Each growth ring has a porous part (from spring growth) and a dense part (from summer growth). The dense part is used as a splint because it can be bent permanently.

Grain and texture

resemble oak in texture, falling halfway between medium and coarse.

The grain is almost always straight and even, but sometimes you can find boards with a curly or figured grain.

Black Ash wood bark

The tree has smooth bark when young, but the bark turns dark gray or brown and becomes corky as the tree matures.

The branches are directed upwards, forming a slightly rounded crown.


When worked, it emits an odor that can be described as distinct and moderately unpleasant.

Black ash Tree Identification

Black ash is a medium-sized tree that loses its leaves every year. It can grow up to 15–20 m tall and up to 24 inches in diameter, or 63 inches.

One way to tell a Black Ash tree from a Green Ash tree is by looking at the leaflets. Black Ash leaflets lack a stalk and appear directly attached to the complex leaf’s primary stem.

Black Ash also has branches that go in opposite directions. It grows in wet places where other types of ash do not.


Ash flowers can be hermaphrodite or unisexual. They are characterized by being devoid of calyx and corolla. Pollination happens because of the help of the wind.

Black ash trees blossom in the spring before sprouting leaves. The small purple flowers don’t have petals and grow in groups.


The fruit is a samara (fruit with a flattened wing shape that facilitates its dispersion with the wind), inside which the seed is found.

The seeds contain edible oil, much like the sunflower and the dried fruit provides nutrition for wild birds and small mammals.


The shape of ash leaves is lanceolate, and they are unique in that they don’t have any lobes. This makes them easier to identify, even though some shape differences depend on the type.

The leaves give the plant its green color. It used to be thought that it could stop the poison from vipers.

Each of this ash’s leaves comprises seven to eleven small leaflets with teeth. In the fall, leaflets do not stalk, die, and fall to the ground.


How do you care for black ash trees? The tall and beautiful black ash will not only add beauty with its flowers and leaves, but its thick branches will also provide cool shade.

It’s not hard to grow. As long as there is adequate sunlight exposure and a steady water supply, it will thrive.

Black ash trees can withstand temperatures down to -30℉.

The Pros  and cons of Black ash wood

In this blog, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of Black ash wood, such as how hard it is, how strong it is, its workability and how long it lasts, and more. We hope this information will help you.

Rot resistance

Heartwood is considered to be decayable or only slightly durable. The disadvantage of black ash wood is that it is usually not very durable against fungi, so it is necessary to apply varnishes or protective layers.

Strength and Durability 

Black Ash wood is one of the strongest types of wood in the world. It is much stronger than any hardwood, with a compressive strength of 7,410 psi and a bending strength of 15,000 psi.

Allergies and toxicity

It has been shown that ash from the Fraxinus genus might irritate the skin and impair lung function.

Water resistance

The wood from deciduous trees, like ash, is very hard. It is even stronger than oak, but it doesn’t hold up as well against water.

Black ash needs to grow in a place with a lot of moisture but no standing water. The best place is near a stream or creek, where the water moves and gets air.

Even a place flooded for up to two months during the growing season is a good place to plant the tree.


Works well with hand tools or machine tools. Bends well when heated with steam. It works well as glue, stain, and finish.

Ash is easy to finish, and it takes beautiful stains. It is porous, so you must use a pore filler if you want a glass-like finish.

Black Ash wood is easy to work with both hand and power tools. Cutting edges wear down over time. It sticks well, but you should drill holes first.

It works well with screws. It is best known for how well it bends. Its long fibers make it hard to turn on a lathe without splintering.

Black Ash wood uses

Black Ash wood is very pleasant to work with, which is why it is mainly used for joinery and carpentry elements.

It gives excellent results when used to construct interior flooring and ornamental uses.

Due to its high flexibility and resistance to splitting, ash wood is traditionally used for tool handles, curved furniture, ball sports paddles, hockey paddles, and antique tennis rackets.

Since it burns as fuel even when green and turning, it is also used as firewood.

Black Ash wood for furniture

Black ash wood is strong and long-lasting, and it is usually a light color. Even though it is rough, the grain is pretty straight. Because it is strong and durable, black ash wood can be used for many things, but it is most often used to make furniture.

Black Ash wood is very strong and can be finished in many different ways. It’s a great choice for kitchens that care more about how things turn out.

Ash wood is made up of grains that are very close together. This gives it the best quality of all wood.

Black Ash wood for flooring

Solid black ash flooring is very hard and durable. It has a Janka score of 1320, which means it is harder than oak, beech, or heart pine.

This makes the plank flooring great for areas with moderate foot traffic because it can handle them well without getting scratched or dented.

Black Ash wood firewood

Black Ash makes good firewood because it is a hardwood that burns cleanly and makes enough heat. It doesn’t smell bad and won’t make your hands smell like rotten eggs.

One of the best kinds of firewood to burn is black ash. White ash has 24.2 million BTUs of heat per cord, which is a lot. Green ash has 20 million BTUs per cord, which isn’t too bad.

These woods are usually easier to work with because they have less pitch and sap.

Black Ash wood for carving

Ash is a strong, hard, and dense wood that can be used to make beautiful and long-lasting carvings.

To carve Ash wood, you need a lot of patience and practice. This is because Ash wood is very hard and dense, making it hard to carve.

Its knots (burls) are beautiful, which makes it great for crafts. It is also hard enough for knife handles and is highly recommended for being stable-laced.

Black Ash wood for woodworking

Black Ash is often used for basket weaving. Hoop or Basket ash is another name for beaten wood that breaks along the tree’s growth rings and is chopped into thin strips for weaving baskets, chair seats, or barrels.

In eastern North America, the only native trees with feather-compound leaves are the ashes and the box elder.

Black Ash VS White Ash Wood

What is black ash? What’s the difference between black and white ash?

White Ash usually has a lighter heartwood color, and growth rings farther apart. On the other hand, Black Ash tends to have darker heartwood, and the growth rings are often much closer together.

White Ash tends to have winged parenchyma that connects the outermost latewood pores. Still, Black Ash doesn’t have this kind of latewood connection very often.

Black ash grows slowly to quickly, and its wood is not as strong or dense as white ash.

Even though Black Ash and White Ash look different outside, many other ash species can’t be told apart from White Ash because they have the same traits.

Black ash-related species

Black ash is one of the most common trees found in North America. Black ash also grows in many parts of the world. We’ve collected a list of all black ash-related species we have found.

Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata)

Blue ash, or Fraxinus quadrangulata, is a type of ash that grows mostly in the Midwest of the United States, from Oklahoma to Michigan.

There are small groups in Alabama, southern Ontario, and some of the Appalachians.

Blue ash is a medium-sized tree that loses its leaves and usually grows to be 10–25 m tall with a trunk that is 50–100 cm wide.

European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

Fraxinus excelsior, also called European ash or common ash, is a flowering plant in the family Oleaceae, which also includes olives. It is native to mainland Europe east of the Caucasus and Alborz mountains.

Norway’s Trondheimsfjord is the northernmost place on Earth.

The European ash tree’s leaves are some of the last to open in the spring and the first to fall if a frost comes early.

Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica is an ash species native to eastern and central North America, from Nova Scotia west to southeastern Alberta and eastern Colorado.

It has become common in many western U.S. and Europe, from Spain to Russia. Downy ash, swamp ash, and water ash are other less common names.

Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia)

Fraxinus latifolia, the Oregon ash, is a member of the ash genus Fraxinus, native to western North America.

It can grow to heights of 20–25 meters (65–80 feet), with a trunk diameter of 40–75 centimeters (16–30 inches) in its 100−150-year average life span.

Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda)

Pumpkin ash is a type of Fraxinus profunda tree that grows in the eastern part of North America, mostly in the United States.

Like all ash tree species in North America, it is threatened by the emerald ash borer. The pumpkin ash tree is native to the lowland river valleys and swampy areas of the Atlantic coastal plain.

Tamo Ash (Fraxinus mandshurica)

The Manchurian ash, or Fraxinus mandshurica, is a type of Fraxinus native to northeastern Asia. It grows in northern China (Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Jilin, Liaoning, Shaanxi, Shanxi), Korea, Japan, and southeastern Russia (Sakhalin Island).

White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

White ash, also known as American ash, is found in the eastern and central parts of North America. The white undersides of the leaves are where the name “white ash” comes from.

There are about 8 billion ash trees in the United States, most of which are white and green.