(30 cm). The endgrain of the wood is pounded with a mallet—collapsing the weaker earlywood, and liberating the latewood to be peeled off in strips.

Ash is a great craft wood, but best known as the wood of choice for baseball bats. Black ash is a slender tree, though not as tall as white ash. The strips are subsequently collected and woven into baskets. Few trees, though, can match its aggressiveness in sending out a massive root system. It seldom reaches over 50 ft. (16 m) or a diameter of 12 in. Perhaps the most common ash look-alike is Sassafras (Sassafras albidum). Black ash is a commercially sold wood and even though it is not as good as the white ashes, it is excellent for cabinets, furniture, etc. this becomes significant.

It has compound leaves with pointed leaflets that turn yellow in the fall. Even its light weight (31 lbs/ft 3 average) closely matches the density of Black Ash (34 lbs/ft 3 average). The color is darker (browner) in black ash than in white ashes. Black ash wood is 10 percent lighter in weight, meaning it is weaker, more limber, etc. When viewed from the face grain, the wood bears a strong resemblance to Black Ash, closely matching its color and grain pattern. Other woods are stronger, but it has the best strength to weight ratio, and since most players do not want a bat greater than 32 oz. Native to the northern wetlands, the black ash shares its soggy habitat with other water-loving trees, such as tamarack and black spruce. The bark is grey, with shallow fissures and becoming scaly as the tree ages.

Ash look-alikes.

The main types of ash wood you will come across in building, construction and for general human use is wood from the white ash (Fraxinus americana) and the black ash (Fraxinus nigra).There are other species of ash tree as well, including European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia) and Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). Ash is divided into two groups -- white and black. For the same reason, it is used for tool handles, hockey sticks, and canoe paddles.

So the black ash has few close neighbors. Black Ash is commonly used in basket weaving. Unlike white ash, it has no stem connecting the leaflet to the main stem. A fierce competitor, the tree sucks up water and nutrients at a rate that, over the long run, other trees can't match.