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Narrow-leaved Ash – Fraxinus angustifolia – il-Fraxxnu

Narrow-leaved Ash – Fraxinus angustifolia – il-Fraxxnu

The Narrow-leaved Ash is a fast growing, light demanding tree indigenous to the Maltese islands. Its natural distribution is the Mediterranean region: stretching from central-southern Europe to northwest Africa and the Caucasus region to the east.

It is capable of growing to a height of 40 – 45 m having a trunk up to 1.5 m in diameter. The dense, irregular dome shaped crown consists of short pendulous shoots; these contain compound leafs arranged in groupings of 7 – 13 slender and pinnate leaflets 3 – 8 cm. long and 1 – 1.5 cm. wide. The leaves are palatable to livestock and this tree was traditionally used in southern Europe as a fodder tree.

Narrow-leaved Ash is andromonoecious: that is, it bears both hermaphrodite and male flowers separately on the same tree. The petal-less flowers (catkins) grow in early spring in clusters of 10 – 30, green with dark purple stigmas and anthers. The flowers are wind pollinated and seeds are dispersed by wind and also by the valley water flow.

The preferred habitat for this species includes valleys, lowlands and floodplain forests where it forms large population stands. It rarely creates pure stands and this is generally found only in areas providing optimum conditions as a pioneer species. Generally it is more often associated as secondary species mixed in with broadleaved forests of Oak, Elm, Willow and Poplar tree species.

Narrow-leaved Ash grows best on moist soils but can also tolerate well-drained soils along slopes. The preferred soil dynamics are aerated or moderately compacted soils with a pH of 5 to 8.

This tree is legally protected in Malta under the tree protection regulations.

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