Box Elder

Common Name - Box Elder

Category - Trees,shrubs, Vines

ScientificName - Acer negundo

Kingdom - Plantae

Phylum - Anthophyta

Class - Dicotyledoneae

Order - Sapindales

Family - Aceraceae

Genus - Acer

Species - negundo


Description - Deciduous; medium-sized tree; trunk usually divides near base; several stout branches; leaves pinnately compound with 3 to 5 leaflets; young branches bright green; winged fruit, sometimes referred to as helicopters

Size - 60 ft. (18.29 m) tall

Ecological Role - The box elder is a producer, transforming the sun’s energy into food energy. It is a browse species for white-tailed deer and provides cover for wildlife. Seeds remain on the tree during winter and provide food for songbirds and squirrels when other food sources are scarce. This tree has a short life span, is fast growing, and is becoming a “weed” in the eastern United States. It usually begins to establish itself following pioneer species such as cottonwood and willow.

Fun Facts - The box elder is related to the maples and is the only member of this family with a compound leaf. Native American Plains Indians used the sap from the box elder to make a fine, white sugar, though sap from the box elder is not as sweet as that of the sugar maple. The box elder bug feeds on the tree, but does little damage. These bugs become a nuisance by invading houses.






Habitat - Moist open areas; stream banks and floodplains

Kentucky Distribution - Statewide

Life Cycle

Life Span

Life Stage

Reproduction - Seeds; dispersal by wind, birds, and squirrels

Seasonal Changes


Status - Abundant

Uses - The box elder is used for pulpwood. It has limited use as lumber, generally reserved for rough construction, boxes, and inexpensive furniture. It is planted as a shade tree and as a protection from wind (shelterbelt) with limited value in erosion prevention.



What We Can Do


Diagnosis and Control

Interesting Facts

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