Boxelder, Box Elder Maple, Manitoba Maple
Acer negundo

Family: Sapindaceae (sap-in-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Acer (AY-ser) (Info)
Species: negundo (neg-UN-doh) (Info)
Synonym:Acer negundo var. negundo
Synonym:Negundo aceroides
Synonym:Acer negundo var. variegatum
Synonym:Acer negundo var. violaceum

Category:

Trees

Height:

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

Spacing:

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:

Deciduous

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

By grafting

By simple layering

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Montgomery, Alabama

Flagstaff, Arizona

Morrilton, Arkansas

Fremont, California

La Crescenta, California

Beulah, Colorado

Jacksonville, Florida

Champaign, Illinois

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Indianapolis, Indiana

Plainfield, Indiana

Valparaiso, Indiana

Alma, Kansas

Benton, Kentucky

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Brainerd, Minnesota

Helena, Montana

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Norwood, New York

Beach, North Dakota

Ada, Oklahoma

Jay, Oklahoma

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Lewiston, Utah

Logan, Utah

Roanoke, Virginia

Spokane, Washington

Falling Waters, West Virginia

Appleton, Wisconsin

Elmwood, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

8
positives
7
neutrals
7
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On Sep 15, 2014, SamnJoesGrama from Alma, KS wrote:

Sugar maples simply don't do well where I live. Although Box Elder is truly a trash tree, it is supposed to make a sweet syrup every bit as delicious as maple syrup. There are good videos on Youtube that show you how to tap and cook down the sap. It is annoying to be weeding and have to pull up all the little poison ivy mimics. Especially when you actually have poison ivy coming up occasionally.
If you are in the country and interested in trying to make your own syrup, it might be for you. I am going to plant a few near the creek that cuts across my land. I will post again with the results. It does take about 4 liters to make less than 1/2 a cup of thick syrup, however. Lots of steam, but a worthwhile result.

Negative

On May 17, 2014, GeorginaC from Toronto, ON wrote:

Please do not plant this tree if you don't want to spend the next several years plucking seedlings from your lawn, from cracks on pavements, garden beds and any other thing that might offer enough moisture for the seeds to sprout. This plant is an absolute nightmare! Is spreads VERY easily, it grows very fast and starts spreading as soon as the plant is just over a foot tall.
Although it is a maple tree, it is a very poor quality one. The branches are weak and break with little to no warning, the bark usually looks like someone took a hacksaw to it. And then there are the bugs... boxelder bugs... They breed on that tree, they gather anywhere the seeds pile up and find their way inside your home if they can. In my case, only a few manage to get inside but they always end up behind th... read more

Neutral

On Jan 24, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This very common and widespread tree of eastern and central North America is normally considered a wild weed tree. It is not a really pretty tree. It has no real autumn color and the bark and twigs are not ornamental. It grows about 3 to 4 feet/year and lives about 75 to 100 years. It is fine in the wild in fields, woodland edges, and bottomlands. It is listed as having high wildlife value for birds, small mammals, and deer browsers.

Negative

On May 15, 2012, Jay3fer from Toronto
Canada wrote:

AVOID THIS TREE! Just ran this weed tree through the Arbor Day tree identification and indeed, it is a box elder maple. This came with our house and although the shade is welcome on the porch, because it "volunteered," it is much too close to the house and will probably jeopardize the foundation. We have already had a problem with roots cracking our pipes that necessitated digging up the front lawn. Each spring, this tree drops thousands of little seeds that we then spend the entire garden season pulling out as they take root. Avoid planting in southern Ontario where it is a known invasive - the destruction to property is not worth the "benefit" of a fast-growing tree. Also, weed trees grow dangerously quickly and, when tall enough, jeopardize structures and cars with weak branches w... read more

Positive

On Mar 30, 2012, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Love this tree. It's native to the state of Indiana and many other areas. Here's its native range:

"Boxelder is the most widely distributed of all the North American maples, ranging from coast to coast and from Canada to Guatemala. In the United States, it is found from New York to central Florida; west to southern Texas; and northwest through the Plains region to eastern Alberta, central Saskatchewan and Manitoba; and east in southern Ontario. Further west, it is found along watercourses in the middle and southern Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau. In California, boxelder grows in the Central Valley along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, in the interior valleys of the Coast Range, and on the western slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains. In Mexico and Guatema... read more

Positive

On Jun 4, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

Another Tree that I love. For one thing you and Mess with peoples heads because it looks like Poison Oak. It grows everywere here in Indiana. I been trying to get a hold of some seeds off of the trees for years... still no luck. Also, There is noting like runing up to people and telling them its Poison oak. I do it all the time at work. lol

Positive

On Jul 6, 2010, Quixxel from Salt Lake City, UT wrote:

I had a very small one behind my house when we moved in. I decided to let it grow, despite hearing it is a weed. It is now a wonderful tree, and my only regret about it is that it is close enough to the house that we'll have to get rid of it soon.

Positive

On Oct 16, 2009, Invasive from Jamestown, KY wrote:

I just LOVE this tree, It's very fast growing, provides plenty of privacy and Gets wide and bushy. I have found this to be a very strong tree even In high winds. A friend of mine was able to make a drink from this tree called elderberry wine, and to say it was great just don't say It enough. Also I have tasted some syrup that was tapped out of one of these tree's and you CAN'T taste the difference between It and sugar maple. Boxelder syrup is a little bit thinner but taste just as good. This tree will quickly feel In a area and IF you have both male and female trees you will have seeds and then they will have offspring and you can have privacy In a hurry which can be a REALLY good thing. All in all this is a very good tree to have and I highly recommend this tree to everyone.

Negative

On May 16, 2009, marzieo from East Syracuse, NY wrote:

Nasty little weed tree, and hard to eliminate because it drops so many seeds. Hubby and I have spent nearly 2 years getting rid of every seedling and young tree we can find on our property. Not very hardy during storms either, due to the soft wood - we just had a large limb from one crack and drop on our roof. Avoid this "tree" if at all possible.

Negative

On May 8, 2009, RosemaryA from Toronto, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

In southern Ontario, Acer negundo is considered seriously invasive. If you live in southern Ontario, please do not plant this tree.

Positive

On Nov 12, 2008, karams from Cleveland, OH wrote:

I bought my house in NE Ohio because I fell in love with the box elder maple tree in the front yard. What a glorious, reliable and strong tree it proved to be. This past summer, it survived the Sunday evening Hurricane Ike winds (excess of 70 mph for 7 hours) but our arborist warned that it was rotted and dead in the trunk. He took the tree down last week - there was ZERO ROT in the trunk. The tree was not dead. The stump measures 42" across. I am still crying. Despite being highly allergic to this tree, I loved mine and feel like a failure for having it removed based on an arborist's incorrect diagnosis. According to the rings in the stump, the tree was over 85 years old - in it's golden years, but not dead yet.

Neutral

On Jul 10, 2007, Joanmaree from Norwood, NY wrote:

I have quite a few of these weedy trees growing along my property line. From experience I know that once cut down this tree will produce many suckers from the stump.

Positive

On Jul 5, 2007, jkshaw from Lewiston, UT wrote:

This wonderful tree, a male box elder, was planted as a sapling in 1875 by the original settler, Niels Bergeson, while the family was still living in a dugout on the cut bank below it, and while the house, above, was being built. Though we have other, female box elders which host the box elder bug scattered on the hillside above and in a pasture we own below us, this tree does not host them. Moreover, the bug is not particularly damaging to either the plant nor the house. We have accepted them as part of life here.

Six days ago, during the hot, still early afternoon, an enormous limb spontaneously dropped. I understand this phenomenon is not uncommon and has something to do with heat and moisture. Our tree man, Mark Malmstrom, is going to give the box elder a gentle pruning,... read more

Positive

On Jul 2, 2006, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Boxelder maple is a native pioneer species across a broad swath of North America, and finds a pretty permanent home in boggy or floodplain soils. It is a prolific seed producer, which are a favorite food source of some migrating birds. Planted out in a home landscape creates some difficulties, but used in naturalized areas or in restoring habitats, it is an excellent choice that will establish with little or no assistance.

Negative

On May 24, 2006, treeguy15 from trenton
Canada wrote:

This tree grows everywere in my yard. They are very suckery trees and they are very weak. Before we had a tropical depression and a large branch broke and hit my shed and damaged it in only 40 mph winds. They are growing in my large juniper and in my lilacs and they are going to cause problems. These trees are so weedy.

Neutral

On May 1, 2006, tishbet from Toronto
Canada wrote:

I'm rating this neutral as I'm not sure of an outcome yet.
I live in downtown Toronto, Ontario and I have what appears to be a box elder sprouting just behind my back garden fence. There's a retaining wall at the bottom of my garden, with an approximate 7-8 foot drop to the neighbouring garden. Based on photograph ID I think it's a female. I'm actually hoping to get some feedback on it as this has not been planted purposely, and I'm wondering what the positive/negative traits are.
I'm planning to eventually install a privacy fence to replace the dilapidated, broken down wire fencing that's there (I just moved in last fall) as well as landscaping the area, so I'm wondering if this tree could potentially damage any work done. It's not directly on my property but spreads ov... read more

Negative

On Dec 16, 2004, bagpypr from Redlands, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Be very careful when planting this particular maple especially A. negundo " Flamingo" as they are invasive in warm climates and VERY brittle. I work in a windy little town called Fontana and these trees are always snapping off major limbs in the wind. Very fast growing as are the suckers and seeds.-Bagpypr

Neutral

On Aug 10, 2004, kerrykugelman from La Crescenta, CA wrote:

I just planted 3 boxelder cultivars ("Flamingo") on the parking strip along the street, and so far so good. Many sites indicate that the native boxelder is prone to many downside issues, but the cultivars are not. I just want to mention that in defense of the variety, since the "naturally occurring" plants do indeed have some negatives (roots, bugs, fragility). I'm in So.Calif, and will keep an eye on how these do with water needs as well. Thank you for reading!

Negative

On Jul 1, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Weak wooded and untidy trees that grow quickly in the most inconvienient places.

They start to shed their leaves almost as soon as they get budded out well. They produce an extraordinary amount of seeds with an amazing germination rate. Seedlings pop up everywhere. The wood is weak, so they tend to break frequently in storms. Boxelders are also hosts to quite a few insects also.

Do not plant near houses where the leaves and limbs can get in the gutters and the roots will fill your sewer lines.

Neutral

On Apr 16, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Box elder is a fast-growing, weak-wooded, suckering, medium-sized, deciduous tree that typically grows 30-50 (less frequently to 70) tall with an irregular rounded crown. It is widely distributed throughout the U.S. The name box elder (sometimes boxelder) is in reference to a use of the wood for making crates and boxes and the supposed similarity of the leaves to those of elder (Sambucus). Leaves also resemble those of some ashes, hence the additional common name of ash-leaved maple.

Neutral

On Mar 20, 2002, Kwmsf from Clifford, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:

This tree is considered to be "weedy" but it is fast growing and survives in poor conditions. Be careful planting it next to homes as it is prone to storm breakage and the female tree attracts Box Elder bugs

Neutral

On Feb 2, 2002, activex wrote:

The Boxelder (Acer negundo), is often called Ashleaf Maple by some old-timers. This tree can be tapped for its sweet syrup, but is not commercially used anymore since the preference for Sugar Maple syrup is more abundant.

What to look for: Leaves are 6-15 inches long, compound with 3 to 7 irregularly lobed, coarse-toothed leaflets. Flowers are yellow-green. Most immature branches are green. Often found growing along watercources, swamp edges and forest edges.