Castlewood Park – Home of the Big Blues

Castlewood Park Blue Ash
Castlewood Park blue ash

While Big Blue Nation awaits another exciting college basketball season, another Kentucky icon quietly stands in relative obscurity – the ancient, big blue ash trees of Castlewood Park and other Lexington urban parks. Successfully avoiding the encroaching development that has threatened ancient blue ash trees in other areas of the Bluegrass, these centuries-old trees inspire us to protect venerable trees throughout the city and the surrounding woodland pastures.

The native range of the species extends primarily through the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.  A review of the champion tree lists from those states reveals that the dimensions of the Lexington trees are truly superlative.

Leaves of blue ash
Leaves of blue ash

Castlewood Park boasts several ancient blue ashes, with the largest measuring an astounding 14’9” in circumference at 4.5’ above the ground, the standard height at which circumference is measured. Despite the unimaginable number of storms it has experienced in its lifetime and the resulting damage and regrowth, the tree still stands at an impressive height of 81’. Including this awe-inspiring tree, Castlewood contains six blue ashes with a circumference greater than 13’. An imposing bur oak, with a circumference of 18’1” and height of 95.5’, stands guard over the ancient grove. A bench underneath the bur oak provides the perfect opportunity to relax and admire these remarkable trees. Other parks containing very old blue ashes include Woodland Park and Ecton Park. Even though they are not quite as massive as the largest blue ash at Castlewood, all of these trees have their own unique character and are worthy of admiration.

Castlewood Park blue ash
Castlewood Park blue ash

Although we have these trees among us now to enjoy, there are many serious threats that jeopardize the future of the blue ash. The species seems more resistant to the emerald ash borer than some other ashes, but the infestation still poses a serious threat, in addition to the threat of development.

As a way to help monitor the health and document the species, please take a moment to notify of blue ash trees in the area, using this link:

We must protect the blue ash trees that are so strongly identified with the beautiful landscape and history of the Bluegrass.

Matt Markworth is a member of the Native Tree Society and Tree Climbers International. Matt lives in Mason, OH and works in Northern KY. Heights were measured with an LTI Trupulse 200 using the sine method.

Ecton Park Blue Ashes
Ecton Park blue ash trees


Photo of Matt Markworth
Matt Markworth, Tree Hunter