Ashleaf Maple
Acer negundo

   Mature Ashleaf Maple (6) 

The Ashleaf Maple is a fast-growing tree that can reach between 30-60 feet in height, and which has an irregular shape due to its random branching (2). The bark is fissured and often light-brown or gray with narrow ridges (6). Twigs are slender, green, and hairless (6). Branches are often brittle and are easily broken by wind (1). Leaves are opposite, compound, and are about 15cm in length and contain 3-7 elliptical leaflets; the leaflets are also lobed and coarsely toothed (2). Clusters of yellow green flowers blossom in early spring.  Flowers are monecious, which  means that there are male and female flowers on the same tree. The fruit is a samara which is characteristic of all maples (6). The samaras are attached pairs of light brown winged seeds; the wings of the seed are curved (1). 

Location on Campus

The Ashleaf Maple is found on the North Campus of Nazareth College on the east side of George Hall between the dormitory and the horse pasture.  

Native Habitat and Current Range

The Ashleaf Maple is native to North America.  It is found throughout Canada, New York, as far south as Florida and as far west to Texas (6)


Optimal Growing Conditions

Ashleaf Maple 
leaf (5)

Optimal growing conditions for the Ashleaf Maple include moist soil and a temperate climate.  However, the Ashleaf Maple is also resistant to drought, flooding and cold (5).  Therefore, they can be grown in a wide variety of habitats.  They are often planted in recreational areas near rivers that are prone to flooding (4).


Economic Importance

Ashleaf Maples are most often used in landscaping as shade trees due to their fast-growing nature and dense crown that provides shade for homes and recreational areas (4). They are often used as shade trees for livestock pastures to protect the livestock from heat exhaustion (4).The wood is used to make poles and low grade furniture (4).  Also the Ashleaf Maple provides sap for making maple syrup (7)

Ethnobotanical and Cultural Information

 Leaves, bark and seeds of an 
Ashleaf  Maple (6)

The Ashleaf Maple was very important to Native Americans.  The wood was used to make dishes, pipestems, and drums (4). The inner bark of the Ashleaf Maple can also be boiled to produce a tea which the Native Americans used as an emetic, (which induces vomiting) (4).  Settlers in the Colorado River Basin and Native American tribes of that area also relied on the Ashleaf Maple as a source of maple syrup (7).

Fascinating Facts

Example of the 
Ashleaf Maple 
seed (6)
  • Many small mammals and birds prefer Ashleaf Maples to most other trees as a home and a food source. 

    • Magpies nest in Ashleaf Maples almost exclusively (7).

    • Grosbeaks, mice, squirrels, and chipmunks eat the seeds (7).

    • Mule deer often consume the leaves of the tree (7).

  • Both the scientific and common name has been a controversy since 1753 (7).  

    • The scientific name has been changed to Negundo aceroides  var. interius .Negundo  from the original Acer negundo (7)

    • Also the common name has changed from Box elder to Ashleaf Maple (7).

Other interesting sites

                   The Noble Foundation Plant Image Gallery 
                    This site contains fabulous pictures of Ashleaf Maples and numerous other plants. 

                   Native Trees of the Southern Rocky Mountains
                   This site provides many interesting facts about Ashleaf Maples and other trees of the southern
                    Rocky Mountains.  

                   A Guide to a Collection of Hardwood Trees of the Northeast
                   This is a site that provides a guide to many different hardwoods found in the
                    Northeast.  Each page includes pictures, descriptions and facts about the tree.

References: Articles, Books, Reference Materials, and the Web

  1. American Association of Amateur Arborists. 1996.  The Howard County Maryland Forestry  Board. Accessed 2003 Nov 18.

  2. Little, L. 1980. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region. Alfred A Knopf, Iinc. New York: pp. 527.

  3. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. 2003.  The Noble Foundation Plant Image Gallery. Accessed 2003 Nov 18.

  4. Utah State University. 2002. Range of Utah Plants: Boxelder.    Accessed 2003    Nov 18.

  5. Watterworth, E. 2002. A Guide to a Collection of Hardwood Trees of the             Northeast.            Accessed 2003 Nov 18.

  6. Watterworth, Emily. 2002. A Guide to a Collection of Hardwood Trees of the             Northeast.       Accessed 2003 Nov. 18.

  7. Wier, S. 1998. Native Trees of the Southern Rocky Mountains.    Accessed 2003 Nov 18.


Created by:  Emily Coon


Nazareth College

Plant Biology 2003