Ashes can live up to 150 or 200 years. Mature trees often have a ‘candelabra’ shape with branches sweeping down then up.
The best way to identify them is by the sooty buds. They occur in pairs with each pair at right-angles to the next, with a triple at the end.
The seeds are also distinctive, if they are present on a tree. These “bunches of keys” form soon after the flowers in spring; some will stay on for most of the year.
The leaves are light green and are divided into paired leaflets with a single one at the end.
The young stem is light in colour and smooth. It gets more gnarled and pitted as the tree gets older.
Juliet Bailey describes the Ash in winter here (PDF).
Don’t confuse Ash with …
Rowan (“Mountain Ash”). Rowan leaves are smaller and more serrated, and it has bright red berries not keys. Rowan is a very different species and does not suffer from Ash Dieback.
Elder. Elder leaves are a bit larger and rounder than those of Ash. It is more bushy, where Ashes grow straighter. Elder has berries not keys.