Fraxinus sambucifolia. Black Ash. Fraxinus acuminata. White Ash.
Nat. Ord. — Oleaceae. Sex. Syst.— Dioecia Diandria.
Description. — Fraxinus Sambucifolia is a tree which attains the hight of from forty to seventy feet ; the trunk is covered with a bark of a darker hue than that of the White Ash, and less deeply furrowed, and is from one to two feet in diameter. The wood is purplish, very tough and elastic, but less durable than the white ash. The leaves are from nine to sixteen inches in length, and are composed of about seven leaflets, which are sessile, ovate-lanceolate, serrate, rugose and shining, round-oblique at the base, smooth above, and red-downy on the veins beneath. Calyx and corolla both wanting ; buds of a deep-blue color. Samara elliplical-oblong, very obtuse at both ends. This species grows in swamps and moist woods in the northern States and Canada, blossoming in May. The young saplings are much employed in making hoops, and the mature trunks for baskets. The leaves when bruised exhale the odor of Elder.
Fraxinus Acuminata of Lamark, or the Fraxinus Americana of Linnaeus, is a large forest tree, which grows from fifty to eighty feet high ; it often rises more than forty feet without a branch, and then expands into a regular summit of an equal additional hight. The trunk is covered with a gray, furrowed and cracked bark, and the branchlets are a smooth greenish -gray. The leaves are a foot or more in length, opposite, pinnate, consisting of about seven leaflets, which are petiolate, oblong, shining, acuminate, entire or slightly toothed, glaucous beneath. Its flowers are whitish-green, and are disposed in loose panicles, the fertile ones with a calyx, and the barren ones without. Corolla wanting. Calyx small and four-cleft ; buds of a rust-color. Samara spatulate-linear, obtuse, with a long narrowed base. The white ash is chiefly confined to the Northern States and Canada, growing in rich woods, and blooming in April and May. Its wood is light, firm, elastic and durable, furnishing a most excellent timber for carriage-frames, bars, handspikes, agricultural implements, etc.
History. — There are several species of this tree, all of which possess medicinal virtues, probably, of a similar character. The bark is the part used, the properties of which are extracted by water. No analysis has been made of it.
Properties and Uses. — Tonic and astringent. An extract of the black ash used as a plaster is very valuable in salt rheum, and other cutaneous diseases. The infusion may be used internally as a tonic, and for all purposes where a combination of astringency with tonic influence is indicated.
The white ash is also cathartic, and has been found beneficial in some cases of constipation, and also in dropsical affections. It may be used in the form of infusion, or in bitters. The bark in white wine, is said to be efficient in curing ague-cake, or enlarged spleen. The seeds are said to prevent obesity.
The leaves of the common ash, Fraxinus Polygamie, have been highly recommended in the treatment of gout and rheumatism. No nausea, sickness, general discomfort, nor depression attends their employment, and generally, after having used them for four or five days, and sometimes sooner, the pain, redness, and swelling sensibly diminish in intensity, or entirely disappear. About two and a half ounces of the powdered leaves are to be infused for three hours in a sufficient quantity of boiling water, then strained through a linen cloth and sweetened; this is to be taken during the day, at several draughts, and is to be repeated daily ; it should be continued for eight days after the symptoms have disappeared. In chronic gout it may be repeated for eight or ten days every month, for several consecutive months. Probably the leaves of the above species, or of the Fraxinus Quadrangulata, or Blue Ash, will be found equally efficacious.