Riparian Plants: Box Elder - Acer negundo
Box elder can grow in mixed riparian forest plant communities as well as willow scrub and Valley oak woodlands. They grow most commonly with cottonwoods, and are a dominate small tree species in mixed riparian forests. They tend to remain in short stature in lower elevation sites relative to the water table because of frequent flooding. Box elder roots do not have to reach the water table, and they do not tolerate long duration flooding. Box elders are relatively shade and drought tolerant species that can grow in sandy to loamy soils.
Box elders usually grow as small trees or large shrubs and range from 6-15m in height. Typically Box Elders have multiple stems which provide high density cover and nesting sites for birds and mammals that utilize the midstory. The seeds are eaten by both birds and mammals, and seeds are sometimes available in the winter. The leaves of box elders are a good source of insects.
For more information about the ecological tolerances and structure of riparian plants, see Gaines 1977, Conard and others 1977, Holstein 1984, Sacchi and Price 1988, Faber and Holland 1996, Cooper and others 1999, Vaghti 2003, Fremier and Talley 2009, and Vaghti and others 2009.
Box Elder dimensions
Box Elder in summer
Box Elder in winter