Black ash (Fraxinus nigra Marsh.) plays a central role in several Native American teachings (including a Wabanaki creation story) and has long been used for basketry, yet relatively little is known about the species’ ecology. The recent and ongoing invasion of emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire), an invasive beetle killing millions of ash trees in eastern North America, threatens the future of black ash and the centuries-old basketry tradition. In recognition of the precarious state of this cultural keystone species, basketmakers, basket-tree harvesters, and researchers assembled to discuss traditional ecological knowledge and research advancements related to black ash. Here we provide an overview of basket-quality ash, synthesize current knowledge of black ash biology and ecology, and report findings from this successful tribal and scientific collaboration. Management recommendations were developed and future research needs outlined in hopes of sustaining an ecologically important tree species and maintaining a Native American tradition that has cultural and spiritual significance.
- Agrilus planipennis
- Emerald ash borer
- Fraxinus nigra
- Invasive forest pest
- Traditional ecological knowledge