The generic name derives from the Greek phraxos, meaning fencing, because the genre was used in the construction of fences, but may also refer to phraxis, which means separation, referring to the habit of cracking that its timber features. This wood was highly valued in ancient times because of its lightness, elasticity and resistance, and was used in ancient cultures of Europe to develop weapons: apparently this species provided the antlers of the spears to the fighters of Troy.
Ash in its different varieties, especially the excelsior - 'the highest' - is a mythical and legendary tree in many cultures of Northern Europe. For the Vikings the yggdrasil was, the largest and most beautiful of all the trees, as they felt that their branches spread so much that could reach Paradise.
The nineteenth-century romantic traveler Theophile Gautier was surprised to find these trees more characteristic of northern cultures than southern ones when traveling through Spain. Among his impressions of Sevilla, include the one of 'The Cristina', a superb promenade on the banks of the Guadalquivir with northern trees like ash, cypresses, poplars, willows, causing admiration of the Andalusians as palm trees and cacti cause the Parisians.