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ACER negundo var. californicum

Image of Acer negundo var. californicum

James H. Schutte

Family

Aceraceae

Botanical Name

ACER negundo var. californicum

Plant Common Name

California Ash-Leaved Maple, California Boxelder

General Description

Somewhat smaller than most others of its kind, California box elder is a short-lived deciduous tree native to much of the state whose name it bears. Typically low-branched with furrowed light gray to gray-brown bark, it has downy, bright green, compound leaves with three or sometimes five leaflets. Inconspicuous greenish yellow flowers emerge with the leaves. Male and female flowers occur on separate trees. Female trees bear two-winged fruits that mature from green to reddish-brown.

Box elders are tolerant of a wide range of soils, fertile or poor, wet or dry, but do best when grown in full to part sun. These trees tend to self sow, so avoid planting them near beds and borders. Most practical use could be as a windbreak row. California box elder is not commonly grown as a landscape tree due to its weedy, weak-wooded nature, but it makes a tough, serviceable tree for difficult garden areas.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    25'-40' / 7.6m - 12.2m

  • Width

    20'-450' / 6.1m - 137.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring

  • Native To

    California

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site, Pollution, Drought, Soil Compaction

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow Green

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Burgundy, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Yellow Green, Brown

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes