Friday, August 21, 2015

Portraits of a Box Elder

box elder (Acer negundo): A tree. “box” because its wood was used to make boxes; “elder” because the leaves suggest those of elderberry.
Another name for box elder is ash leaf maple, appropriately.  It's a maple (genus Acer) but the leaves look more like ash leaves—compound with leaflets.  Most maple leaves are simple.

Box elder is fast-growing, soft-wooded, short-lived.  “It typically occurs in moist to wet soils along streams, river flood plains and in low woods” (source).  In general, it thrives in open sites on bare soil.  So it’s a capable urban pioneer—a street plant.

One of my neighbors is a boxelder.  It grows just across the street, on the west side of the warehouse in a corrugated metal corner below the sky, with other tough urban types: Canada thistle, curlycup gumweed and trash.

Box elder with pink thistle, yellow gumweed and cheap throw-away stringer pallets.

Barn swallows roost close by in the evening.

Swallows all in a row, above door.

Wildfires are burning 500 miles to the west, so the sky was smoky, with an eerie red sun.

Sun sets behind abandoned cabin and discarded pallets.

This post is my contribution to the August gathering of street plant fans, kindly hosted by Lucy  of Loose and Leafy.