ash, in botany, any plant of the genus Fraxinus of the family Oleaceae (olive family), trees and shrubs mainly of north temperate regions. The ashes are characterized by small clusters of greenish flowers and by fruits with long "wings" to aid in wind dispersal. The most valuable of the species used for hardwood timber is the white ash ( F. americana ), ranging from Nova Scotia to Minnesota and Texas. Its strong, durable wood is used for sporting goods, furniture, tool handles, and oars. The bark of the blue ash ( F. quadrangulata ) yields a blue dye; the Mediterranean flowering ash ( F. ornus ) is the source of commercial manna. The name flowering ash is also applied to a shrubby species ( F. cuspidata ) of the California canyon chaparral and to the fringe tree (genus Chionanthus of the same family) of North America and China. The mountain ash and prickly ash are not true ashes. Ashes are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Scrophulariales, family Oleaceae.
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