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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

AshBlack AshChinese AshNorthern AshRed AshWhite ash

aka Common Ash, Bird's Tongue, Eschenblatter (Ger), European Ash, Weeping Ash
(Fraxinus excelsior)

CONTAINS: Bark contains bitter glucoside (Fraxin), bitter substance (Fraxetin), tannin, quercetin, mannite, volatile oil (small amount), gum, malic acid (free and combined with calcium), flavanoids, coumarins, resins.

A tall, attractive tree of the oleaceae (olive) family. Bark is light gray (smooth in young specimens, rough and scaly in older). Leaves are large and compound being divided into 4 to 8 pairs of lance-shaped leaflets, tipped by a single leaflet, giving the foliage a light feather look. Flowers appear in spring from black buds on previous year's shoots and before the leaves appear. Flowers are wind-pollinated and seed chambers develop with a long strap-shaped wing (called an Ash-Key). The Ash-Keys hang in bunches and, when fully ripe, are blown off and carried away by the wind. Ash is valuable as a timber crop being heavy, strong, stiff, hard and takes a high polish as well as shrinking only moderately when seasoned. It was once used for spears, bows, otter bows, axe handles, ladders, carts, oars, baseball bats and was used extensively for railway building and in the construction of wagons and carriages, sherpherd's crooks, churns and farming implements. Referred to as "ground as" in its younger stages, it is used for hop poles, walking sticks, hoops, hurdles, crates and was once the second most important wood used in airplanes with the Pacific Coast spruce being the first. It is also a good fireplace wood producing little smoke and giving a good quality potash. The bark is astringent and has been used for tanning nets.
Ash also has its place in old superstitions. One involved the removal of warts by sticking a new pin into the tree and then pricking the wart. A new pin must be employed for each wart so treated. The pin is then stuck into the ash tree and left. The following poem is recited: "Ashen tree, ashen tree, Pray buy these warts of me". Another superstition involved boring a hole in the trunk and burying a live shrew in the hole and then plugging it up. A new sprig of this "shrew ash" was believed to cure the paralysis resulting from a shrew creeping over a person's limbs. Ash cradle rockers were believed to shield infants from snakes.

HARVEST: Trunk and root barks are used medicinally. It appears commercially as quills which are gray or greenish-gray on the exterior with a number of small gray or brownish-white warts and having a smooth inner surface of yellowish to yellow-brown and is fibrous. There is little odor and the taste is bitter and astringent. Leaves and Keys are also employed. Leaves are taken in June and dried, then powdered and stored in an air tight container. Keys are taken when ripe.


Bark is bitter tonic, astringent, antiperiodic, laxative, anti-inflammatory, febrifuge, diuretic.
Leaves are diuretic, diaphoretic, purgative, cathartic and laxative (especially useful in gouty or rheumatic problems); leaves are sometimes substituted for Senna and have less griping action. In Europe the leaf tea was used as a mild purgative and for rheumatism.
Has been used in decoction for intermittent fever and ague. Once used as a substitute for Peruvian bark.
Has been used to remove obstructions to liver and spleen (bark).
Has been used for arthritic rheumatism (bark). Promotes excretion of uric acid and is used in arthritic and gouty conditions where kidney and bowel function are difficult.
Ashes of the bark once used for scabby and leprous heads.
A distilled water of the leaves was once taken every morning and considered good for dropsy and obesity.
A decoction of the leaves in white wine was once used for dissolving stones and curing jaundice.
Ancient physicians emplyed the Ash-keys as a remedy for flatulence.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
INFUSION of BARK = Bark of young branches and twigs = 1 tsp to 1/2 C. water, boiled briefly and steeped 2 to 3 minutes; take 1/2 to 1C. daily, unsweetened, a mouthful at a time throughout the day.
INFUSION of LEAVES = 1 to 2 tsp of the leaves to 1/2 C. hot water, steeped 2 to 3 minutes then strained; taken 1 to 1½ C. a day. OR, 1 oz. leaves to 1 pint of water in frequent small doses for 24 hours.

Used for rheumatism, sluggish bowels and fevers in farm animals.
To dose, allow the animals to feed off the leaves.
In rheumatic conditions feed several handfuls daily chopped in bran mash.
Keys are used internally for "wind": brew 10 keys in 1/2 pint of equal parts water and milk or feed raw.
When cows eat the leaves of the shoots, the butter becomes rank.

At one time Ash-keys were preserved with salt and vinegar and used as pickles and often substituted for capers in sauces and salads.

Gypsies used all parts of the ash as a remedy for adder bites.

(Fraxinus nigra) and (F. sambucifolia)
See Also: Ash

A tree of North American wet woods and swamps. The bark of black ash was included in the Canadian Pharmacoepaeia. Native Americans made much use of ash trees. The ash was used to fashion bows and arrows. The black ash was used for making baskets and for the frames of snowshoes. The Iroquois cut the tree into 6 to 8 foot lengths, removed the bark , then pounded the outside with the back of an axe or mallet until the layers could be separated into strips. The bark was also used in covering wigwams. Sleds and cradleboards were also fashioned from ash by Native Americans. In the United States the bark of the American white ash is used similarly.

PART USED: Bark and Ash-keys.


Keys have been used as a diuretic and aphrodisiac (one recipe called for powdering the keys with nutmeg and combining with liquid to be drunk)
Flowers were boiled with vinegar and used to rub the genitals and blisters; also used to strengthen wounds.
The crushed young tender bark was stripped off in small bits and mixed with warm wine and applied to broken bones.
The Hurons employed the bark along with other herbs in an effort to unsuccessfully prevent and cure epidemics of smallpox.
Ashes of the bark were used as a remedy for rough skin.
Once used for rabies and snakebite.
The Ojibwa used the inner bark soaked in warm water and applied the liquid to sore eyes.
The Menomini used the inner bark as a seasoner for other medicines.
The inner bark was used by the Meskwaki for any internal ailment. They also combined it with false solomon seal root (Smilacina racemosa) to make an infusion used as a laxative. The bark infusion was used on sores and to cure itch; also itching scalp due to vermin.
In Mexico the bark and leaves of Black Ash, Water Ash, Hoop or Basket Ash was used in similar fashion as the common ash. Also the bark and leaves of F. lanceolata (Green or Blue Ash) are used as a bitter tonic and the root as a diuretic.

The Ojibwa would carefully peel off the bark from a 6 to 8 foot tree section, then make a cut about 1/2 inch deep. They would then pound with an axe handle or mallet and cause it to split up from the log. By inserting wedges and continually pounding ahead of them, the wood separates along the annual rings. Another cut would be made in the center of the annual ring and the two halves peeled back exposing a glossy surface. The splints were then curled into coils to be immersed into kettles of dye and then woven. The bark was also used as a dye.

(F. chinensis)
[bai la shu pi]

Part used is the fruit. It is carbonized and simmered in water and used for upset stomach. Parasitic insects on the plant produce a medicinal white wax.

(Fraxinus bungeana)

Anti-inflammatory, diuretic, analgesic. Has been used to control bacterial infections and coughs.

(Fraxinus rhynchophylla
[qin pi]

BARK CONTAINS: Aesculetin and 6,7-dihydroxycoumarin-6-beta-D-glucoside

The part used is the stembark as an astringent and stomachic. Has been used in decoction alone or with other herbs for bacillary dysentary, diarrhea, hepatitis, and opthalmia.

(Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
(Also: F. pubescens, F. lanceolata, F. viridis)

The outer bark taken from a branch will be red or cinnamon in color on the inner surace when fresh. The Pillager Ojibwa used the inner bark in combination with other things as a tonic. The cambium layer was scraped down in long fluffy layers and cooked and said to taste like eggs. The Tete de Boulle scraped the inner bark and made it into a tea for general fatigue and for depression. The leaves were also rubbed on insect bites to reduce the swelling.

(Fraxinus americana syn F. acuminata)
See Also: Ash for other uses

CONTAINS: Bark contains fraxoside (glucoside) and coumarin.

A tall, attractive tree of North American woodlands. Its gray furrowed bark sometimes appears in a diamond pattern. The bark of White Ash was included in the Canadian Pharmacoepeia. It was official in the NF from 1916-1926 as a tonic and astringent. Among the Ojibwa (and probably other Native American tribes) it was known as "spear timber" and used for making fish spears and canoes. When tobacco was scarce, the berry-like tips were substituted.

PART USED: Bark and leaves.
SOLVENT: Boiling water


Antiperiodic, laxative, purgative, and stimulant. The keys were believed by some to be aphrodisiac.
Infusion of the bark have been used as astringent tonic and cathartic; also used for dropsy, mastitis, enlargement of the spleen, gout and for some types of eczema.
An infusion of the young, tender leaves was used for gout, arthritis, rheumatic pain, dropsy and obesity.
A wine of the bark was used as a bitter tonic, astringent and anti-periodic.
Bark was used for ague and hemorrhage.
Among the Penobscot Indians a strong bitter decoction of the leaves was given to women after childbirth to cleanse them.
An old cure for obesity was to take 3 or 4 leaves in wine each morning "from time to time".
An old snakebite remedy was a decoction of the buds or bark. Also used was a poultice of the leaves.
Native Americans made a tea of the inner bark and used it as an emetic or a strong laxative to remove bile from the intestines, to relieve stomach cramps, for fevers, as a wash for sores, itching, lice and snakebites. The inner bark was also chewed and applied as a poultice to sores.
The Meskwaki used the inner bark of a sapling and cooked it to molasses like consistency and used this remedy on old sores (another account simply says it was cooked in syrup such as molasses).
When a large branch is heated in the center, a liquid escapes each end; this was put to use by the Mohawks and Algonquins of Temiscaming who used the escaping liquid as a remedy for earache. In case of deafness, this liquid was combined with a strong infusion of goldthread (Coptis groenlandica)...a few drops placed in each ear then closed over with a bit of animal skin.
One old story purports that a Native American from one of the Eastern tribes cured a cancer by internal and external use of the juice of the white ash that was procured by burning a branch in its center and collecting the escaping liquid from the branch ends.
The keys were used for intermittent fever.
In the far eastern portions of Russia, Manchuria and China the leaves and bark of a similar species was used to stimulate blood circulation, especially in the legs, feet, arms and hands. It was called "old folk's medicine" and was used as a tea internally and as a poultice.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
INFUSION = 1 tsp leaves or bark to 1 C. of boiling water, steeped 30 minutes; 2 to 4 cups per day.

Homeopathic tincture is used for affections of the uterus, prolapse and tumors. For enlargement of the uterus, fibrous growths, prolapse, uterine tumors, fever sores on lips, cramps in feet, cold creeping and hot flashes, infantile eczema, depression with nervous restlessness and anxiety (hot spot on top of head), dysmenorrhea, tenderness in left inguinal region, bearing down pain extending to thigh.
DOSE = 10 to 15 drops of tincture 3 times daily.

From 1833 is this remedy to cure "greese" in a horse: 1 pound of green ash leaves boiled in 2 gallons of water, strained and used as a wash for the legs while always rubbing downward.
Used for scours and pinworms in horses and cattle; the bark is burnt to ashes and made into a strong lye...1/2 pint of this is mixed with 1 pint of warm water and administered 2 or 3 times daily (1846).

The Abenaki used the white ash from which to fashion hats.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH