(Acer negundo var. negundo)

Conservation Status
boxelder (var. negundo)
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


Boxelder (var. negundo) is a fast-growing deciduous tree rising on a single trunk from a shallow, fibrous root system. It may form a taproot in deep soils. Large individuals can reach over 100 in height and 59 in diameter at breast height, though in Minnesota mature trees are usually 30 to 50 tall and up to 36 in diameter. It is prone to disease (including leaf anthracnose, bark canker, and trunk heart rot) making it moderately short-lived, usually living about 60 years, though older individual may survive up to 100 years.

The trunk is usually crooked and often divided close to the ground into several major limbs. In forests the trunk is sometimes long and straight. The crown is broad and uneven. The branches are long, spreading, crooked, and irregularly branched. They are brittle and subject to breakage. Exposed trees usually have broken tops. Sprouts are often produced from damaged areas on the lower trunk.

The bark on young trees is thin, light grayish-brown, and finely scaly. It has raised, buff or orange lenticels. On mature trees the bark is thicker, light brown to gray, and cut with shallow, narrow furrows and narrow, rounded, intersecting ridges. The ridges intersect every 6 inches or less. Orange lenticels are visible in the furrows. On older trees the bark is deeply furrowed and the ridges break horizontally into squarish blocks.

The twigs are hairless and moderately stout with prominent, raised bumps (lenticels). They are round in cross section; have white, solid, homogenous pith; and have a strong, disagreeable odor when broken. When young they are heavily covered with a whitish, powdery bloom (glaucous) that easily rubs off. As they age the bloom wears off. Older twigs are bright green or olive green and shiny. The leaf scars are small and broadly U-shaped. They have 3 bundle scars. The leaf scar wraps around the stem, the raised tips almost meeting those of the opposite leaf scar. The sap of a freshly cut twig is clear.

Terminal buds are egg-shaped, to 5 16 long, and bluntly pointed at the tip. They usually have 4, sometimes 2, reddish, distinctly overlapping scales. The scales are densely covered with fine, whitish, appressed hairs. Lateral buds are slightly smaller and are tightly pressed against the twig. They are concealed by the base of the leaf stalk, and are not visible until the leaf has fallen off.

The leaves are deciduous, opposite, and 2¾ to 9 long. They are on 1 to 4 long leaf stalks. The leaf stalks are usually hairless, occasionally short-hairy.

Two types of leaves are produced: early leaves, also called preformed leaves; and late leaves, also called neoformed leaves. Early leaves are fully formed and overwinter in the bud. They are the first leaves to mature in the spring. They are produced on short (preformed) shoots and at the base of long (partially preformed, partially neoformed) shoots. They are divided into only 3 leaflets and are broadly triangular egg-shaped in outline. Late leaves are formed at the end of long shoots. They are oblong egg-shaped in outline and are pinnately divided into usually 5, sometimes 7, rarely 9, leaflets.

The leaflets are 2 to 4 long, ¾ to 2 wide, and oblong to egg-shaped. They are tapered or rounded at the base and taper to a sharp point at the tip with straight or concave sides along the tip. The terminal leaflet is sometimes inversely egg-shaped and sometimes 3-lobed. The upper surface is light green and usually hairy when young, becoming hairless or almost hairless at maturity. The lower surface is pale grayish-green and usually hairy when young, becoming sparsely hairy, especially along the veins, or almost hairless at maturity. The margins are usually coarsely and irregularly toothed, with 3 to 5 teeth per side, sometimes untoothed. The lateral leaves often have 1 or 2 shallow lobes. In autumn the leaves turn yellow.

Male and female flowers are borne on separate trees, rarely on the same tree. They appear before the leaves or during leaf development in mid-April to late May. The male inflorescence is a tight, umbrella-like bundle (fascicle) of 10 to 20 flowers produced from a lateral bud on the twig. The fascicle droops at the end of a greenish-yellow, hairy, thread-like, to 1¾ long flower stalk. The male flower has a yellowish-green calyx with 5 minute lobes, no petals, and 3 to 6 stamens.

The female inflorescence is a short, unbranched cluster (raceme) produced from buds at or near the branch tips. The raceme droops at the end of a greenish-yellow, hairy, thread-like, about long flower stalk. It is subtended by a leaf. The female flower has a yellowish-green calyx with 3 to 5 minute lobes, no petals, and a single, deeply lobed style with 2 stigmas.

The fruit is a pair of dry seed cases with papery wings attached (double samara). They occur in clusters that droop downward from long stalks. Each double samara is in the shape of an inverted V, connected at the top with the wings spreading apart at less than a 90° angle. Individual samaras (or keys) are 1¼ to 2 long. The seed cases are elongated and wrinkled. They are slightly connected to each other when young and separated at maturity. The wings are typically ¾ to 1½ long. The keys are usually hairless, green initially, turning yellowish green when the seeds are mature, then brown in the fall. They mature late August to late September and fall throughout the winter.




30 to 50




The champion boxelder in Minnesota is on private property near Minneapolis, in Hennepin County. In 2018 it was measured at 50 tall and 163 in circumference (52 in diameter).


Flower Color




Similar Species


Saplings usually have just 3 leaflets, which may cause them to be misidentified as western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii). That plant, however, has alternate leaves.

Boxelder (Acer negundo var. interius) twigs are densely covered with short, soft, velvety hairs. The leaf undersides usually have tufts of hairs in the vein axils. The fruits are sometimes short-hairy. It is a western variety and is uncommon to rare in Minnesota.


Wet or moist. Floodplains, lakeshores, streambanks, upland hardwood forests. Rich soil.




Mid-April to late May


Pests and Diseases


Boxelder pouchgall mite (Aceria negundi) causes pouch-like galls on boxelder leaves.

Maple twig borer moth (Proteoteras aesculana) larva often kill the twigs that they bore into. Their presence can be recognized by noting dead and drooping leaves at the end of a twig.





Distribution Map



4, 7, 24, 29, 30.








Common and widespread

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Sapindales (soapberries, cashews, mahoganies, and allies)  


Sapindaceae (soapberry)  
  Subfamily Hippocastanoideae  
  Tribe Acereae  


Acer (maples)  
  Section Negundo  
  Series Negundo  
  Species Acer negundo (boxelder)  



Acer negundo var. variegatum

Negundo aceroides

Negundo negundo

Rulac negundo


Common Names


ash-leaved maple

ashleaf maple

ash-leaf maple

box elder













Bundle scar

Tiny raised area within a leaf scar, formed from the broken end of a vascular bundle.



A small bundle or cluster, often sheathed at the base, as with pine needles.



Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.



A corky, round or stripe-like, usually raised, pore-like opening in bark that allows for gas exchange.



On a compound leaf, having the leaflets arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk. On a bryophyte, having branches evenly arranged on opposite sides of a stem.



The spongy cells in the center of the stem.



An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.



A dry fruit consisting of a seed attached to a papery wing; one seeded in Elms and Ashes, two-seeded in Maples.

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Honey Fae (Farah)

    boxelder (var. negundo)   boxelder (var. negundo)  
    boxelder (var. negundo)      



Box elder bugs found on Box Elder tree

    boxelder (var. negundo)      



Box elder sapling. Freeborn County, MN, June 2017

    boxelder (var. negundo)   boxelder (var. negundo)  


    boxelder (var. negundo)   boxelder (var. negundo)  


    boxelder (var. negundo)      

Young Bark

    boxelder (var. negundo)      


    boxelder (var. negundo)   boxelder (var. negundo)  


    boxelder (var. negundo)      

Male Flowers

    boxelder (var. negundo)   boxelder (var. negundo)  
    boxelder (var. negundo)   boxelder (var. negundo)  

Female Flowers

    boxelder (var. negundo)   boxelder (var. negundo)  
    boxelder (var. negundo)      

Expanding Buds

    boxelder (var. negundo)      






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Visitor Sightings

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  Honey Fae (Farah)

Location: Minnesota

boxelder (var. negundo)  
  Honey Fae (Farah)

Location: Minnesota

boxelder (var. negundo)  
  Honey Fae (Farah)

Location: Minnesota

boxelder (var. negundo)  

Location: Ramsey County (Taylor Park)

Box elder bugs found on Box Elder tree

boxelder (var. negundo)  
June, 2017

Location: Freeborn County, MN

Box elder sapling.

boxelder (var. negundo)  

Agassiz Dunes SNA

Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

Baker Park Reserve

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Stone Lake State Park

Big Woods Heritage Forest WMA

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Brownsville Bluff SNA

Buffalo River State Park

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Bur Oak WMA

Cambria WMA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Trout Lily SNA

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Rock SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Chimney Rock SNA

Clear Lake SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Clinton Falls Dwarf Trout Lily SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow Wing State Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Crystal Spring SNA

Des Moines River SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Englund Ecotone SNA

Falls Creek SNA

Felton Prairie SNA, Bicentennial Unit

Flandrau State Park

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes Preserve

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Gneiss Outcrops SNA

Great River Bluffs State Park

Greenleaf Lake SRA

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hampton Woods WMA

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Hastings SNA

Hayes Lake State Park

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Jay Cooke State Park

Jensen Memorial WMA

John A. Latsch State Park

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Keller Regional Park

Kilen Woods State Park

King’s and Queen’s Bluff SNA

Laible Woods

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Leif Mountain

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Malmberg Prairie SNA

Maplewood State Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

Miesville Ravine Park Reserve

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Chaska Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Rapids Lake Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Wilkie Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Monson Lake State Park

Moose Lake State Park

Morton Outcrops SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Ney Nature Center

Old Mill State Park

Ordway Prairie

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

P.N. and G.M. Nelson Wildlife Sanctuary

Phelps Lake WMA

Pilot Knob

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Prairie Creek Woods SNA

Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA

Quarry Park SNA

Racine Prairie SNA

Ripley Esker SNA

Ritter Farm Park

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rockville County Park

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Sakatah Lake State Park

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Savage Fen SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Schaefer Prairie

Sedan Brook SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Seven Sisters Prairie

Seven Springs WMA

Sheepberry Fen

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Spring Lake Regional Park

Springbrook Nature Center

Staffanson Prairie

Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve

Sunfish Lake Park

Swedes Forest SNA

Tamarack Nature Center

Thompson County Park

Thorson Prairie WMA

Tiedemann WMA

Town Hall Prairie

Townsend Woods SNA

Tribute WMA

Twin Lakes SNA

Twin Valley Prairie Addition

Tympanuchus Prairie

Uncas Dunes SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Valley View Park

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Vermillion River WMA

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

Whitney Island SNA

Wild Indigo SNA

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodbury WMA

Woodland Trails Regional Park

Yellow Bank Hills SNA

Zimmerman Prairie

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA





Created 12/31/2013

Last Updated:

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