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This tree is also called ash-leaf maple, is hardy in zones 2 through 9, prefers well-drained, moist soil, and grows between 30 and 60 feet tall with a 20 to 40-foot spread, with a fast growth rate.
Box Elder trees grow throughout the United States; found in wetlands such as lakes, streams, ponds, and other low-lying wet places. This tree has a shallow root system, making it drought tolerant. Conversely, it is also able to withstand short flooding periods, of up to one month.
Leaves and Seeds:
The leaves on Box Elder Live Stakes are the only member of the family that has divided leaves. Each leaflet is approximately 3 inches long and appears opposite of each other. Each booklet is notched. The leaves are a dull green through the summer, then turn a pretty yellow in the fall. In the spring both male and female trees grow yellow-green flowers from March through May.
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Samaras hang in clusters, which remain on the tree into the winter months. The grain is about 1 1/2 inches long. The seeds hang in long chains in the fall and winter, after the leaves have fallen off the tree. The seeds attract birds because they provide food in the winter when other food sources are scarce.
Bark and twigs:
The bark is a light grey to yellow-brown, and it darkens with age. The twigs on a Box Elder tree are Light green or purplish brown. Twigs are stout and sometimes covered with velvety white hairs that are easily rubbed off.
Uses and History:
Since the Box elder grows fast, its wood is light and weak. It's perfect for pulp, inexpensive furniture, and other wooden items. Native Americans used to use the lower part of the trunk to make bowls, dishes, pipe stems, poles, and drums.
Since Box elders grow in moist areas, they plant at the edges of streams, creeks, ponds, and swamps. They are also planted to provide shade, ground cover, and to protect the banks near waterways.