Boxelder is actually a maple tree. This native tree, while very cold hardy, is not widely sold due to its ability to self-seed aggressively. It also attracts boxelder bugs which often enter homes in fall.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
All common names:
- Residential and parks
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Large tree (more than 40 feet),
- medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Wet soil
- Dry sites,
- Occasional drought,
- Wet sites,
- Occasional flooding,
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Excessive sucker growth,
- Highly susceptible to ice damage,
- Messy fruit/plant parts,
- Weak wood and branch structure
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Insect pollinators,
- Seed-eating birds,
- Small mammals
Tree & Plant Care
The species is able to grow in a wide range of conditions.
Disease, pests, and problems
Seedlings from this tree make it a weedy species.
A weak wooded tree prone to storm damage.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to low, wet areas. It has spread into disturbed sites and common in urban situations.
Bark color and texture
Bark is brown with very shallow ridges. Young stems are distinctively green and covered with a white, waxy coating.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
This maple has compound leaves with 3 to 5 (sometimes 7) irregularly toothed leaflets. Leaves are in pairs (opposite) with the leaf ranging from 6 to 8 inches long.
Leaves light green in summer with very little fall color change.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Male and female flowers generally on separate trees. Not ornamentally important.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Fruit on female trees only. Pairs of winged seeds (samaras), hanging in clusters.