The Box Elder is a native maple tree that has attractive, light to medium green foliage and ornamental, light green twigs. It grows throughout much of the United States and it occurs in woodlands and swamps. It is a medium-sized, deciduous tree with an irregular rounded crown. It typically grows 30-50’ (less frequently to 70’) tall. It is a durable tree with a fast growth rate and it is very cold hardy so it can be grown in cold northern climates where many deciduous shade trees do not grow. The leaves are unusual for a maple. Whereas most maples have simple, lobed leaves, the box elder has pinnately compound leaves. The leaves usually have 3 leaflets but they can have up to 7 or 9 leaflets. The leaflets are lobed. The leaves turn yellow in the autumn. Greenish-yellow flowers appear in pendant clusters in spring on separate male and female trees. Fruits are pairs of samaras and are in long, pendant clusters. The name box elder (sometimes boxelder) is in reference to a use of the wood for making crates and boxes and the supposed similarity of the leaves to those of elder (Sambucus). Leaves also resemble those of some ashes, hence the additional common name of ash-leaved maple.
1. Soak the seeds in water for several hours.
2. Cold scarify the seeds for 90 days in moist sphagnum moss or vermiculite.
3. Put a mixture of potting soil and sand or perlite into a pot with drainage holes in the base. The soil should be moist and well-drained.
4. Sow the seeds on the soil.
5. Cover the seeds with a layer of soil that is 0.5 inches thick.
6. Water the seeds. Keep the soil moist but not wet.
7. When the plants are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.