Box Elder
(Acer negundo)

Box Elder

Description: The Box Elder is a large tree with a very large base. It often has a divided and crooked trunk. It is a very aggressive plant, and will quickly take over any area and choke out most other plants. The Box Elder can adapt to live almost anywhere and is very resistant to anything from severe droughts to floods. It is native to NC, however, so it is not considered invasive.

Box Elder

Growth Habit: The Box Elder grows very quickly and spreads very fast as well. It grows 30-50 feet (9-15 m) tall at maturity. Its bark also has deep, wavy ridges. It has no preference when it comes to shade or sun.

Leaves: Leaves are deciduous with a toothed margin. They are 4-9 inches (10-22.5 cm) in length, oppositely attached, with 3-5 leaflets per leaf and each leaflet being 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) in length.

Flowers/Fruit: Flowers are small and reddish and the fruits are pairs of green winged seeds (that eventually turn brown). Each pair is 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm ) long.

Box Elder

Value to Wildlife: The fruit of the Box Elder is a great source of food for many small mammals and birds and stays on the tree for much of winter when many other foods are hard to find. It also attracts Box Elder beetles, which provide food for many of the same animals. Unfortunately the bugs often kill other plants by eating all of their fruit and leaves.


This page prepared by 8th grader David C.
Exploris Middle School - Fall 2009