Boxelder, a tree found throughout all of Ohio, frequents rural bottomlands and neglected urban areas. It is the only maple tree native to Ohio that has compound leaves. While it has little commercial usage or ornamental appeal today, its rapid life cycle still helps establish both shade and erosion control in marginally useful areas. The name Boxelder comes from its former usage in the manufacture of wooden crates, pallets, and boxes. It is native to the entire central portion of the United States and much of the eastern United States, except for the Atlantic Coast and most of New England. Mature trees (in either single-trunked or multi-trunked form) may reach 30 feet tall and 40 feet wide when found in the open, often with an irregular shape due to individual branches falling out with time. Boxelder is a member of the Maple Family, and is related to its many other species.
Planting Requirements - The adaptability of Boxelder to a wide range of soils (organic, clay, sandy, or rocky) and moisture levels (wet, moist, or dry) in both rural and neglected urban areas accounts for its widespread distribution across most of the United States and southern Canada. It is best utilized as a quick cover for sites subject to erosion (such as steep gullies or periodically flooded streambanks) or as a non-evergreen windbreak (as in fencerows or drainage ditches between agricultural fields). It grows in full sun to partial sun, from zones 3 to 9.
Potential Problems - Boxelder is plagued by many diseases (including leaf anthracnose, bark canker, and trunk heart rot) and many pests (including boxelder bug). Furthermore, leaf scorch and partial leaf drop during hot, dry summers are a common sight. In addition, unnattractive dried fruits that hang on the female trees in winter, surface roots (with age in compacted or shallow soils), and storm damage (throughout its life) are potential liabilities. Trees often have a lifespan of thirty years or less, but grow extremely fast in the first fifteen years of their life.