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Ashleaf Maple

Acer negundo

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Sapindaceae (Maple)
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
15 metres tall
Gardens, parks, riverbanks, roadsides, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Green, no petals
Small yellow-green flowers in drooping racemes, up to 20cm (8 inches) long. Pollinated by bees.
Paired samaras, similar to those of the Common Ash Tree (Fraxinus excelsior). The seeds ripen in September and October.
Yellow-green, pinnate leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets. The leaves turn yellow in autumn.
Other Names:
Ash-leaved Maple, Box Elder, Boxelder, Boxelder Maple, Manitoba Maple.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Acer negundo, commonly known as box elder, boxelder maple, or ash-leaved maple, is a deciduous tree or shrub in the Aceraceae family. It is native to North America and can be found in a variety of habitats such as woodlands, riverbanks, and wetlands. It typically grows to be around 30-50 feet tall, but can reach up to 100 feet. The tree has compound leaves with three to seven leaflets, which are green in the summer and yellow or yellow-green in the fall. It produces small, greenish-yellow flowers in clusters in the spring, followed by winged seeds (samaras) that hang in clusters in the summer. The wood of the tree is soft and weak, and is not commonly used for construction or furniture. However, the tree is grown as an ornamental plant and also used for shade, soil stabilization, and as a source of nectar for bees and butterflies.


The Ashleaf Maple, scientifically known as Acer negundo, is a deciduous tree native to North America. It is also commonly referred to as boxelder, Manitoba maple, or ash-leaved maple. It is a fast-growing tree that can reach heights of up to 80 feet and widths of up to 50 feet.

Ashleaf Maple trees have a unique appearance with leaves that resemble those of ash trees. The leaves are compound and composed of three to seven leaflets, with the center leaflet being the largest. The leaflets are elongated and have serrated edges. The leaves turn yellow in the fall and provide a beautiful display of colors.

The Ashleaf Maple is a hardy tree that can grow in a variety of soils and environments, including urban settings. It is often used as a shade tree in parks and residential areas. Its adaptability and fast growth make it a popular choice for landscaping projects.

In addition to its aesthetic qualities, the Ashleaf Maple is also valued for its wood. The wood is soft and lightweight, making it easy to work with. It is often used for manufacturing products such as pallets, boxes, and furniture.

The Ashleaf Maple also plays an important ecological role. It is a host plant for a variety of insects and provides food and shelter for wildlife such as birds and squirrels. The sap of the Ashleaf Maple can also be used to make maple syrup, although it is not as commonly used as the sap of the sugar maple tree.

Despite its many benefits, the Ashleaf Maple can also be considered a weed tree in some areas. It has a tendency to spread quickly through the production of numerous seeds, which can germinate easily and quickly establish new trees. This can cause problems in areas where the tree is not wanted or where it may compete with native plant species.

The Ashleaf Maple has a long history of traditional medicinal uses by Indigenous peoples. The sap was used to make a healing tea that was believed to help with various ailments such as coughs, colds, and fever. The sap was also used topically to treat skin conditions such as burns and cuts. The bark of the Ashleaf Maple was used to make a poultice that was applied to wounds to help stop bleeding.

In addition to its traditional uses, the Ashleaf Maple has also been studied for its potential health benefits. Research has found that the tree contains compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may have potential in the treatment of various diseases. These compounds include flavonoids, phenolic acids, and terpenoids.

The Ashleaf Maple is also known for its ability to tolerate pollution and its role in improving air quality. The tree is able to absorb and store large amounts of carbon dioxide, making it an important player in mitigating the effects of climate change.

The Ashleaf Maple is a versatile and valuable tree that provides numerous benefits. Its unique appearance, adaptability, and fast growth make it a popular choice for landscaping and its traditional uses and potential health benefits add to its importance. However, it is important to be aware of its tendency to become invasive and to prevent its spread in areas where it may cause ecological harm.

The Ashleaf Maple is also known for its interesting cultural significance. The tree has been used in various indigenous cultures in North America for its spiritual and ceremonial purposes. For example, some indigenous communities have used the branches of the Ashleaf Maple in traditional sweat lodge ceremonies. The tree was also seen as a symbol of resilience and adaptability by some indigenous cultures, as it is able to thrive in a variety of environments.

In terms of its cultivation, the Ashleaf Maple is a relatively easy tree to grow. It prefers full sun but can also grow in partial shade. It is tolerant of a wide range of soils, including poor, compacted, or wet soils. However, it does not tolerate drought well, so it should be watered regularly in dry conditions.

Pruning is important for the health and appearance of the Ashleaf Maple. Pruning should be done in the early spring before new growth appears. It is important to remove any dead or damaged branches, as well as any branches that cross or rub against each other. This will promote healthy growth and improve the appearance of the tree.

In conclusion, the Ashleaf Maple is a valuable tree that provides numerous benefits. Its unique appearance, adaptability, and fast growth make it a popular choice for landscaping and its cultural significance and potential health benefits add to its importance. While it has the potential to become invasive in some areas, proper care and management can prevent its spread and allow it to thrive in its native range.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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