The Box Elder Maple tree, Acer negundo, is also commonly known as Ashleaf maple, Manitoba maple, Box-elder maple, and Western box-elder.
This deciduous maple tree is a small-to-medium-sized tree, reaching heights of 50 to 75 feet, with a trunk diameter up to 4 feet. The trunk is relatively short and tapering, and the crown is spreading and bushy. It is more often seen as a smaller tree with cane-like, bright green branches.
Box Elder trees are fast growing and tolerate poor conditions. Although it grows best on moist soils, box-elder is drought and cold resistant. It can also tolerate flooding for extended periods (up to a month).
The bark is smooth on young trees and then as it gets older the bark develops narrow ridges; mature trees have dark brown bark. These shade trees have brittle wood.
Boxelder bugs eat seeds on female trees. The seeds are also a source of food for birds and mammals, and are important because they stay on the tree through winter, when other food resources are scarce!
We purchased an older farm that has at least 12 fully mature box elder trees. In my experience, the trees look best when they are agressively and correctly pruned from sappling age on. Most of our trees are crooked and twisted - quite ugly - but a couple of them are straight, tall, and beautiful. They will pop up EVERYWHERE so any that you don't want must be cut down and treated with stump killer. We have cut down hundreds of sapplings over the years because they grow like weeds. These trees grow rapidly, up to 4 or even 5 feet a year. I have successfully grown some from tiny sapplings. They grow very easily and tolerate almost anything. Start pruning and staking up the tree very early so you develop a strong, straight trunk. Box elder bugs abound but they aren't much problem. They stay on the trees and don't come in the house at all. If you want a super fast growing, large shade tree, you can't beat this one, but make sure you prune it and cultivate it correctly to get the best outcome possible. If you don't, the tree will send up multiple suckers that develop into a big bunch of twisted, weak trunks. Be prepared for baby trees to pop up all over your property as the seeds drift in the wind. This isn't a problem if you treat with stump killer as soon as you notice them. If you don't treat, the sappling you cut down will just send up 5 more to replace it!
Box Elder Review by EmilyLynx
All trees are beautiful. But the Box Elder is the most exquisite. The one in my yard is so majestic, and durable.
Box Elder Trees Review by Johnny
While the tree itself is pleasant enough, the fact that a radius of two miles of the tree will be swarmed with box elder bugs. These annoying little bugs get into everything and breed like, well, box elder bugs. Nasty little monsters.