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Hybrid alien ash: Fraxinus excelsior ´ F. angustifolia in Ireland and its potential for interbreeding with native ash

Muriel Thomaset

Muriel Thomasset

thomassm@tcd.ie

Supervisor: Trevor Hodkinson

Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is the only native ash tree in Ireland. It is a very  important hardwood species for farm forestry for its economic potential and relatively fast growth. However, at the continental scale, common ash shares its territory with a related species F. angustifolia with which it forms viable hybrids. From 1993 to 2000 we imported plants of ash into Ireland from continental Europe that appeared of excellent quality at the time of planting. However, within about 5 years trees showed very bad stem-form, pale twigs and brown rather than black terminal buds. Such trees may be of hybrid origin. There is a lack of understanding of hybrid ash in general, its occurrence in Ireland, and potential of it to interbreed with native ash. It is important to study these hybrid ash plantations to assess the scale of the problem and to gather essential biological/genetic data. This project therefore aims to carry out a set of morphological and molecular tests to characterise material from suspected sites and to assess the potential of these plantations to interbreed with indigenous ash .

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Last updated 14 December 2009 botany@tcd.ie.