Boxelder

Acer negundo
A small to medium size tree 30-60’ tall and with a trunk diameter to 2”. The bark is light gray and smooth in young trees, but becomes dark and deeply furrowed with age. The opposite leaves are pinnately compound with 3 or 5 leaflets. The leaflets may be toothed and the terminal one is often shallowly 3-lobed. The male and female flowers are on different trees. The male flower clusters are a tangled mass of long, very fine stalks bearing small, flattened, 3/16” flowers with a 5-part calyx and no petals. The female flowers are in a dangling raceme and fruit soon appears, usually while the paired pistils are still present. The fruit is a horseshoe-shaped pair of reddish keys. Flowers March-May. Found along streams and in moist bottomland. The wood is soft and used to make boxes; hence the name.