Fire by hand drill

Fire by hand drill

Friday, 11 November 2011

Ash for bushcraft

Ash (Fraxinus excelcior)

This is a tree that nearly everyone will know. The pale grey bark, which breaks into fissures as it matures is distinctive but not as much as the black buds.
The leaves are compound with the leaflets have serrated edges.


This tree has a number of interesting features. The inner bark was ground for flour in times of emergency as were the keys. The keys have also been pickled when green. I have found that if you get a green key and break it open the tiny green bit inside tastes quite fresh. The tree will support insects, which you might gather for food.


The Ash is a fantastic resource for the bushcrafter. The wood is second to none for hunting weapons which require impact resistance. The fibres are long which make it good bow wood. The wood is used to make hurls and hockey sticks. The bark can be peeled in large sheets when the sap is rising and can be used to make containers by folding. It can also be used as a splint for a broken arm or leg. The young growth can be used as a withe. If you make a long shaving with a knife it can be used for simple bindings.
Ash splits and bends very well, one of the best and makes fantastic feather sticks.
The wood can be soaked and the rings separated to make strips for baskets.
Ash supports a very useful Fungi called King Alfred’s Cakes which, when dry will catch a cold spark and smoulder very very hot. A fantastic resource.


A compress of the bruised leaves can be used for wounds. The sap can be used for wounds and for stomach problems. The tree has been used a lot through history. The best use I have read about was to heal children with hernia’s.
A young sapling was split to form a hoop while still planted and alive, the child passed through and then it was re-bound and allowed to grow on. Interesting.
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