You'll find boxelder (Acer negundo) parading under a number of local names - ash-leaf maple, sugar ash, and Manitoba maple to name a few. Throughout most of its range, boxelder inhabits stream and river bottoms, and lake shorelines. In these moist places, elm, hackberry, black walnut, cottonwood, and willow make up its neighbors. Except for the occasional specimen in the western part of its range that grows to 75' tall and a diameter of 4', boxelder commonly peaks growth at heights of 40-50' and 2-3' diameters. Rarely does a boxelder reach 100 years of age. Boxelder's pointed leaves resemble those of white ash, but with more scallops. Double seed pods joined into a v-shape hang on the tree's branches from early summer on. At first glimpse, boxelder's gray-brown bark could also pass for that of white ash - its flattened ridges appear similar - except that the furrows run much shallower. The wood of boxelder, at 27 pounds per cubic foot dry, weighs nearly the same as white pine and rates as the lightest and weakest of the American maples. Close-grained and creamy white in color, boxelder tends to be brittle. Sometimes a boxelder tree contains wood that carries raspberry-colored streaks and flecks, a property that woodturners find especially appealing for bright bowls, slender goblets, and attractive platters. The red streaks are composed of a pigment from a fungus (Fusarium negundi).
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