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The Ashes

ash, trees, leaves, tree and seeds

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THE ASHES.

An ash tree is well worth knowing, though it is not always sive to friendly overtures. If von would really know a. tree, you must learn to give it brief sympathetic glances as you pass it day by day. You need not often stop to parley, but without breaking step or losing a word in conversation you may take notice as you pass it, and register in your sub consciousness the progress the tree is making. -- The last seeds will soon be -These leaves have grown one-half their size since Or day and we shall see those flowers shedding their When the changing phases of the tree's life have been observed from the Ideakness of winter through the glory of summer, from spring around to spriii,g igallt, onr acquaintance comes to have in it eleinelits of a. per sonal friendship. and it is not will ingly given up.

The Ivinter aspect of an ash is rather forbidding. The tree then wears a reserved, indifferent air. in its slung garment of close-fitting bark. The top seems too heavy for the slender trunk. There is little liveli ness of color, little promise of life to come. in the warty buds that sit face to face upon the stocky twigs. The spiny brown fruit stems that bristle On many trees speak only of things past.

.Mzirch comes. Willows and pop lars brighten. eagerly believing the tro rumors of returning spring. lmpet nous maples dare all things, and fling open their blossom clusters. The ash takes no notice. It seems to feel in its sluggish veins no stir of rising sap. Not until spring is well under way, and the woods are clothed in green, does this conserva tive join the majority, wake up, and put forth its leaves and flowers. On certain trees purple knobs swell out on the sides of twigs. They are the staminate flowers. In due season they mature and shake out a cloud of yellow dust. On other trees are sprays of delicate green pistillate flowers. They are destined to pro duce the seeds. All through the summer they twinkle and gleam among the dancing leaflets—these little green seeds, each flattened and pointed and feathered like a dart. Under the broad canopy of an ash in July we forget that we ever thought the tree had any shortcomings. As

the summer wanes the green leaves of ash trees take on sober tones of lilac which deepen into purple,. Or in gayer mood they may change to showy masses of pale or golden yellow. In no case is there in the foliage the least suggestion of red. This color seems to be tabooed by the whole ash tribe. The leaves fall, and the brown seed clusters survive them, often hanging late into the winter, giving up their seeds one by one.

Sometimes the stamens of ash are attacked by insects, which distort the flowers into gall-like growths, and cause them to remain on the trees, instead of fallin;• when their duty is done. The tufted leaves conceal them during the summer, but in the autumn these abnormal stamen clusters are conspicuous on the bare twigs. They are sometimes gathered and planted on the assumption that they are the seeds of the tree.

Among other legends—and they are many in folk lore— is the story that ash trees have the power to ward off pestilence. Tins is true. but it is by deep drainage, not by any supernatural charm, that the marvel is accomplished. The roots of ash are fibrous and thirsty. They go long distances in search of water which they take up and exhale through their leaves. Great swamps are drained by simply allowing these trees to spread over them.

Ash trees belong to the genus Fraxinus, and are members of the Olive family. There are forty species known. Six of the twelve Ameri can species are found east of the Rocky Mountains.

The White Ash, Foainas icana, is one of our large forest trees. When young it is slim and grace ful. but it stiffens and broadens with added years. It grows in rich, moist woods from the Atlantic coast to Minnesota and Texas. Its leaves are downy when they unfold, becoming bright and shiny above and paler beneath. The ordinary number of leaflets is seven, each one on a short stalk. The winter buds are rusty yellow, set on greenish gray twigs that are marked with paler dots. The keys of the White Ash are borne in branching clusters. Each seed has a slender round body one-half as long as the pointed blade which is attached at one end of it.

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