14 Box Elder
Image of the Tree You are Viewing

Box elder you are viewing
Basic Information about this tree
  • Scientific Name: Acer negundo
  • Common Name: Manitoba maple, ash-leaved maple
  • Deciduous
  • Branch Structure: Regular, fairly upright,
  • Sunlight / Moisture / Soil preference: Likes full sun but can tolerate some shade. Able to tolerate a wide variety of soils but shows a strong preference for rich moist well-drained  sandy loam, loam, or clay loam soils..  Prefers moist soils such as low lying flood plains, creeks, rivers, lakes. 
  • Flowering type:  fully dioecious and both a male and female tree are needed for reproduction to occur,  one tree either has all male flowers (staminate) or all female flowers (pistillate).
  • Pollination strategy: Wind
  • Native 
  • Age Estimate/ Health: Healthy, 50 yearsThe three biggest ash trees were treated in Fall 2023 to reduce the likelihood of attack by the Emerald Ash Borer. We are very grateful to Premium Tree Protection, LLC for the donation of this treatment.
  • Longevity: 85-110 years
  • Mature Size:25-100 ft tall by 35-60 ft wide under good conditions
  • GPS Coordinates N45.00224 W92.9044 
  • Condition and age guess of the tree you are viewing: Healthy, xxxx years

  • Growth habit of roots: A drought-tolerant tree once established, boxelder’s roots are shallow and spreading, except on deep soils

  • Leaves:  has pinnately compound leaves that usually have three to seven leaflets.

Mature Tree in Winter/ Summer

mature Box elder summer

Leaves in Summer / Fall

14 Box Elder summer leaves
14 Box Elder Fall leaves

Flowers - Female & Male -separate Trees

14 Box Elder female flowers
14 Box Elder male flowers

Samara Unripe / Ripe

A samara is a winged achene, a type of fruit in which a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue develops from the ovary wall. A samara is a simple dry fruit, and is indehiscent (not opening along a seam).

14 Box Elder unripe fruit
14 Box Elder ripe fruit

Bark of Mature Tree / root system sketch

14 Box Elder mature bark

Uses in Traditional and Modern Eras

Value for wildlife: Many different types of wildlife, especially birds and squirrels, rely on those fruits and leaves that persist on the tree, especially late in the season when food supplies become scarce. Boxelder communities provide important habitat for many wildlife species.

Utility for Humans: The wood is of the hardwood class, used for lathe-turned objects, small ornamental objects, wood pulp, charcoal, boxes, and crates. For farmers, box elder protect livestock from temperature extremes in summer and winter.

Traditional uses in Native American Tree Medicine (historical) Information provided by Paul Red Elk, Lakota Medicine Man: The Anishinaabe and Dakota were known to use the inner bark from young saplings for respiratory conditions, kidney infections, temporary paralysis, swellings, and other body ailments. It was also used to wash wounds.

Homeowner’s Corner

In our area, box elder trees are host to box elder bugs which lay their eggs in the female box elders (as well as in related species). These may be annoying to homeowners who have to clean them up. The female trees produce many seeds that sprout easily, making this a fast-spreading species.

Links & References

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