Acer negundo L. var. violaceum (Kirchn.) Jaeger  - Box Elder


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Acer negundo - (image 1 of 9)



Family: Aceraceae


River banks and floodplains. Forms thickets in areas of disturbance and has become quite common due to habitat destruction.


Acer saccharinum, Celtis occidentalis, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Prunus serotina, Sambucus canadensis, Toxicodendron radicans, Ulmus americana, Vitis riparia.


Eastern and central United states up through south central Canada. A few areas in CO, NM, AZ, UT, and CA.


Leaves opposite, pinnate compound; leaflets 3-9, irregularly toothed or lobed, to 4 inches long. Buds to 1/4" long; scales green to reddish and covered with silky hairs. Leaf scars encircle twig. Flowers dioecious; petals absent, the anthers linear and minutely apiculate. Samaras to 2 inches long, in dense drooping clusters. This variety has greenish new growth with a violet, waxy bloom that is easily removed by rubbing. Pith is solid, white.


Flowers late March to early May

Wetland indicator: Facultative Wetland -

Also known as Ash-leaved Maple. A fast growing tree to about 60 feet.  Wood is weak and prone to breaking. Large trees tend to lean. Produces large quantities of seed which serve as an important winter food source for birds and small mammals. The pollen and sap contains oleoresins that may cause contact dermatitis (Westbrooks et al, 1986).

Generally regarded as a weed in the landscape, although variegated forms seem to be rather popular in Europe (Dirr, 1998). The cultivar 'Flamingo' has new growth that is pink and matures to green with a white border.


Dirr, Michael A. 1998. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses.
5th ed. Champaign, Illiois: Stipes Publishing L.L.C.


Westbrooks, Randy G. and James W. Preacher. 1986. Poisonous Plants of Eastern North America.

University of South Carolina Press. Columbia, South Carolina.


USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA




Michael Hough 2004