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Acer negundo (Box Elder)

Box Elder, Box Elder Maple, Ash-leaved Maple, Ashleaf Maple, Red River Maple, Fresno De Guajuco

Acer negundo, Box Elder, Box Elder Maple, Ash-leaved Maple, Ashleaf Maple, Red River Maple, Fresno De Guajuco
Acer negundo, Box Elder, Box Elder Maple, Ash-leaved Maple, Ashleaf Maple, Red River Maple, Fresno De Guajuco
Acer negundo, Box Elder, Box Elder Maple, Ash-leaved Maple, Ashleaf Maple, Red River Maple, Fresno De Guajuco

Hardy and fast-growing, Acer negundo (Box Elder) is a suckering, vigorous, deciduous tree of upright habit with an irregularly rounded canopy of widely spreading branches. The opposite, pinnately compound, light green leaves comprise 3-7 leaflets, 6-15 in. long (15-37 cm), which turn a dull yellow in the fall. Box Elder is dioecious, with separate male and female trees. In spring, it produces pendulous pale green racemes followed by large dangling clusters of pale yellow samaras on female trees. They often persist on the tree well into winter. Many species of birds and squirrels feed on the seeds. The bark is light gray and smooth but becomes furrowed into narrow ridges and darkens with age. Box Elder is often held in low regard as an ornamental tree in urban areas because of a few undesirable characteristics: brittle and weak wood, short life, susceptibility to box elder bugs, and trunk decay. The leaves fall untidily over a long period, as do the winged seeds, giving this species the reputation of being a “dirty tree”. However, because of its fast growth, drought, and cold hardiness, Box Elder is popular in rural communities for street or ornamental plantings and shelterbelts. Box Elder’s abundant sap can be made into a pleasant beverage. The Plains Native Americans used the sap as a source of syrup, and it is still used today, but the syrup is not as sweet as sugar maple syrup.

  • Grows up to 30-50 ft. tall and wide (9-15 m).
  • A full sun or part shade lover, this plant is easily grown in moist, well-drained soils. Box Elder is drought tolerant once established and can withstand short flooding periods.
  • Perfect as a specimen plant in cottage gardens, city gardens, or containers.
  • Low maintenance, this plant needs little pruning. Remove diseased, damaged, congested, or crossing shoots. Remove any shoots with green leaves.
  • May be affected by scale insects, aphids, and verticillium wilt. The wood is weak and will break up in ice and wind.
  • Propagate by seed or grafting.
  • Native to most of North America.
  • Find where Acer negundo species is invasive in the United States.

Requirements

Hardiness 2 - 10
Heat Zones 3 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A2, A3
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Sapindaceae
Genus Acer
Common names Maple, Box Elder
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 30' - 50'
(9.1m - 15.2m)
Spread 30' - 50'
(9.1m - 15.2m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Pacific Northwest, Southeast, Midwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, California, Northeast, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado
Tolerance Drought, Clay Soil
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Patio And Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
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Do I Need?
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Acer palmatum ‘Fireglow’ (Japanese Maple)
Acer palmatum ‘Ariadne’ (Japanese Maple)
Acer palmatum ‘Sumi-Nagashi’ (Japanese Maple)
Acer palmatum ‘Pixie’ (Japanese Maple)
Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Brilliantissimum’ (Sycamore Maple)
Acer ginnala (Amur Maple)

Recommended Companion Plants

Ulmus americana (American Elm)
Celtis occidentalis (Common Hackberry)
Acer rubrum (Red Maple)
Salix exigua (Coyote Willow)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

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Native Plant Alternatives to Acer platanoides (Norway Maple)
Shrubs and Trees with Attractive Winter Bark
Best Companion Plants for Camellias
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 2 - 10
Heat Zones 3 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A2, A3
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Sapindaceae
Genus Acer
Common names Maple, Box Elder
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 30' - 50'
(9.1m - 15.2m)
Spread 30' - 50'
(9.1m - 15.2m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Pacific Northwest, Southeast, Midwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, California, Northeast, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado
Tolerance Drought, Clay Soil
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Patio And Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Acer (Maple)
Guides with
Acer (Maple)
Not sure which Acer (Maple) to pick?
Compare Now

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