Box elder Facts

Box elder Facts
Box elder is a species of maple that belongs to the soapberry family. It originates from North America, but it can be found in Europe, China and Australia today. Box elder prefers moist areas and it usually grows in the wastelands, valleys, floodplains and areas near the rivers and streams. It tolerates cold weather, drought and floods and it easily spreads in the urban areas. People cultivate box elder mostly in ornamental purposes.
Interesting Box elder Facts:
Box elder has short trunk and bushy crown. It can reach 50 to 75 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter (trunk).
Young box elder is covered with light brown, smooth bark. Mature tree has dark brown bark covered with deep ridges and furrows. Box elder easily splits during the storms because of its thin bark that cannot provide protection of soft, inner wood.
Box elder has smooth, purple or shiny green twigs. They are covered with protective layer of wax and oval-shaped openings that facilitate exchange of gases with the atmosphere.
Box elder has pinnate leaves composed of 3 to 7, oval or elliptic leaflets with irregularly notched edges. Leaves are green, darker on the upper side. Box elder is the only species of maple that has compound leaves (other species of maple have palmate leaves).
Box elder produces small, yellow-green flowers. Male and female flowers develop on the separate trees (dioecious plant). Male flowers are arranged in small, hairy bundles. Female flowers are arranged in narrow, drooping clusters.
Box elder blooms early in the spring, usually during the April. Flowers are designed for the pollination by wind.
Fruit of box elder is yellowish or reddish-brown samara organized in V-shaped pairs. Each fruit consists of seed and wing which facilitates dispersal by wind.
Box elder ripens from August to October. Fruit stays on the tree throughout the winter.
Box elder serves as an important source of food for the wildlife. Deer like to eat leaves, while birds and squirrels eat seed of box elder.
Native Americans used sap of box elder for the manufacture of edible syrup (type of maple syrup).
Native Americans used wood of box elder for the manufacture of musical instruments (flutes and drums), prayer sticks and bowls. Charcoal made of wood of box elder was used for the painting of the bodies during various rituals.
Soft wood of box elder is not commercially valuable today. It is mostly used for the manufacture of boxes, barrels, interior finishing, cheap furniture and woodenware.
Box elder can be used to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion of river banks.
Native Americans used bark of box elder as emetic (substance that induces vomiting), for the purification of the body.
Box elder can survive from 75 to 100 years in the wild.

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