The Box Elder tree, Acer negundo, can be found along the upper creek banks, on the borderof both the riparian and the upland community at Hidden Hollow.  This is because its root system prefers to be near stream beds.  It is one of the most common trees in Utah, and can also be found in many other areas scattered across the United States.  It is a medium-sized tree, with an average size range of 12 - 22 meters.
    The Box Elder tree belongs to the maple family, as the name Acer in its name indicates.  Like most angiosperms, it is deciduous:  that is, it loses its leaves in the fall.  Its leaves are pinnately compound, with three to five leaflets.  Like all maples, the leaflet venation is palmate.  The leaflets can be anywhere from 5 - 12 centimeters in length, and the edges have large, irregular teeth.  The flowers and seeds of the Box Elder tree are yellowish-green and have long stalks.  All maple seeds have seeds with paired wings, also known as samaras.  The fruit of the Box Elder tree hangs in clusters, and the wings do not spread more than 45 degrees from the seed.
    A common companion to the Box Elder tree is the Box Elder bug.  It is a small, black insect with red-orange stripes along its back.  It does not pollinate or eat other insects, and although the Box Elder bug is not necessarily useful, it is not known to be harmful, either.  Another common companion to the Box Elder tree is the fall cankerworm caterpillar, commonly known as the inchworm.  It feeds on the leaves of various trees, including the Box Elder and the other trees at Hidden Hollow.  Although leaves can be seriously depleted by the inchworm, the trees generally refoliate once the caterpillar season is through.  The inchworm, in turn, serves as the primary source of nutrition for various migratory birds.  It is important not to over-use insecticides and threaten the inchworm population, as this also threatens the bird populations.
 

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