Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Acer negundo


Ash-leaf maple, Ash-leaved maple, Box elder, Boxelder, Fresno de guajuco


Aceraceae (Maple Family)



Acer negundo (Ash-leaf maple)
Lytle, Melody
Ash-leaf maple or box elder is usually a small to medium-sized tree, 35-50 ft. tall, commonly with a short trunk and widely spreading branches and light green foliage. It doesn’t look like other maples because of its irregular growth, sprouting base, and compound leaves. Fall foliage is usually insignificant.

Box Elder is classed with maples, having similar, paired key fruits, but is easily distinguishable by the pinnately compound leaves. Hardy and fast-growing, it is planted for shade and shelterbelts but is short-lived and easily broken in storms. Common and widely distributed, it is spreading in the East as a weed tree. The common name indicates the resemblance of the foliage to that of elders (Sambucus) and the whitish wood to that of Box (Buxus sempervirens L.).

Image Gallery:

21 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Leaf Shape: Elliptic
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Pubescence: Puberulent
Leaf Margin: Serrate , Lobed
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Base: Rounded
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Inflorescence: Raceme
Fruit Type: Samara
Size Notes: 35-60 feet
Leaf: Opposite, pinnately compound, with 3, 5, or 7 leaflets; each leaflet elliptic to ovate, pointed at the tip, tapering or rounded at the base, usually coarsely toothed along the edges, light green and smooth on the upper surface, paler on the lower surface, up to 4 inches long.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Flowers insignificant. Male and female borne on separate trees, several in a cluster, greenish yellow, appearing as the leaves begin to unfold.
Fruit: Samaras 1-seeded, pale yellow, many, in long, drooping clusters, each one 1 1/2-2 inches long, maturing in autumn and persisting in the spring.
Size Class: 36-72 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr

Distribution

USA: AL , AZ , AR , CA , CO , CT , DE , FL , GA , ID , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , MT , NE , NV , NH , NJ , NM , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VT , VA , WA , WV , WI , WY , DC
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NT , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK
Native Distribution: ME to Man., s. to n. FL & e. TX; also n. CA to CO, s. to s. Mex.
Native Habitat: Moist woods; stream banks; floodplains

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Variable.
Conditions Comments: Ash-leaf maple or box elder is usually a small to medium-sized tree, commonly with a short trunk and widely spreading branches and light green foliage. It doesnt look like other maples because of its irregular growth, sprouting base, and compound leaves. Fall foliage is usually insignificant.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: This hardy, fast-growing tree can survive dry and extremely cold conditions, so it is widely planted as a shade and shelterbelt tree.
Use Wildlife: Birds, Other Showy Insects
Use Food: Plains Indians made sugar from the sap. When sugar was scarce, Prairie settlers sometimes tapped this tree to make maple syrup, but Manitoba maple is the least productive maple for this purpose.
Warning: The wood is weak and will break up in ice and wind.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Acer negundo is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Cecropia silkmoth
(Hyalophora cecropia)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2007-09-04