Book review: The Ash Tree by Oliver Rackham

Image by the author.

Image by S. Shailes.

In The Ash Tree, Oliver Rackham writes about the rich history and ecology of the European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior). One of the commonest trees in the UK, ash provides a home to many other species of wildlife and has long been used by humans for fuel, building, and for making wheel rims, ploughs and tools.

Amazingly, Rackham wrote the first draft of this book during a short hospital stay in Texas, drawing on his extensive knowledge of trees and woodlands without any notes to hand (the facts were double-checked later). Written in response to increased interest in ash when ash dieback disease hit the headlines in the UK, Rackham discusses this disease and other threats to ash including deer grazing and the emerald ash borer beetle. Drawing on other examples of tree diseases, Rackham argues that our current practice of transporting trees and wood products around the world is the biggest single threat to all our trees because it exposes them to new pests and diseases they have little or no resistance to.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in trees, woodlands or plant pathology.

The Ash Tree was published by Little Toller Books in 2014 Find out more:

I’ve recently written about the potential threat to ash trees from the emerald ash borer beetle, which is currently causing devastation to North American ash trees and is now marching into Europe from Russia. Read more here.

I’ve also written about how Ash Dieback disease is affecting an ancient woodland in my local area.


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