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Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology


Acer negundo
Family: Sapindaceae

Natural History

Leaves of boxelder | Photo credit: Larry Korhnak, University of Florida

The boxelder is the only North American maple with compound leaves. It is a fast-growing tree with a short life span (typically 75 years, but with a maximum of 100).

It has a reputation of being a “dirty tree,” and is therefore an unpopular ornamental in city settings. The limbs of the boxelder are brittle and break easily. The trunk is susceptible to rot and infestation by boxelder bugs - which may invade nearby homes with the onset of cold weather.

Additionally, the leaves turn a dull yellow and fall messily over a long period. The winged seeds fall in a similarly untidy fashion. However, because of its fast growth and tolerance to drought and cold, this species is popular in rural communities - as an ornamental for streets and homes.

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