Wisqoq | Black Ash
Fraxinus nigra

Wisqoq (Black Ash) have long held a special place in Mi’kmaq culture. Black Ash has a porous quality that allows it to be pounded into splints for use in basketry.

Young black ash has bark that looks like cork. The wood is very unusual: when pounded, it splits into thin sheets along the growth rings. Baskets are woven from slats produced by pounding a wet block of wood until it separates along the annual growth rings.The strips were also used in woven chair seats, snowshoe frames and canoe ribs…

Black Ash used in baskets:

Black Ash is extremely rare in Nova Scotia. There may be only 80 trees growing wild in Nova Scotia. Seed too is rare and a tree may only produce viable seed once every eight years. The seeds ripen in Spetember and need a period of warm, moist conditions followed by a cool , mosist period before they germinate. Usually black ash seed will not germinate until 2 years after it falls from the tree and can lie dormant for up to eight years before it sprouts.

For some additional information on a project between the Mik’maq community and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College download  this pdf file.

Black ash grows to 50 feet tall in swampy, low-lying areas that are very wet and marshy. It doesn’t adapt well to dry soil.

Birds and many mammals eat the seeds and deer like to munch on the twigs and young leaves.