Box Elder

(Acer negundo)


Leaves: 3-7 leaflets, lobed

Tree: can be single or multi-stemmed; light brown bark


Seed: "winged" in fall

The Bad Rep

The Box Elder is not technically a riparian tree; it grows near the stream bed at lower elevations, but does not grow into the stream like Cottonwoods or River Birches. The Box Elder has a reputation from landscape books as being a tree for tough sites, but is sometimes referred to as "weedy" or "buggy."

Well, most sites in Utah, be it in your garden or along a stream, are "tough" without additional watering. The Box Elder is adapted to height heat and low water conditions. So what if you get a few of those box elder bugs in your yard? When you see bugs on your tree that means the native wildlife is using your tree for food and shelter, as opposed to an ornamental tree, most of which are useless as food sources for the native wildlife.


Dinner is on Me

The Box Elder is a necessary host for several species of bugs, and where there are bugs you'll find birds. Native insect populations use the Box Elder tree bark for shelter in the winter, and this is where you can see birds looking for winter forage.

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