Manitoba maple (Acer negundo) is also known as boxelder, ash-leaved maple, three-leaved maple and western boxelder. It is native to North America and is widespread across the continent, but is considered an invasive species in some areas. It is a fast-growing, relatively short-lived species that usually lives to be about 75 years old, although occasionally it can reach 100 years. It can grow in very harsh climates, tolerating temperatures of up to -46 degrees F and handles drought very well.
Manitoba maples grow multiple stems on a single tree. They can reach heights of up to 60 feet and a trunk diameter of 2 feet in some areas. Their leaves turn reddish brown in the fall and fall off, leaving the branches bare over the winter.
Male and female flowers grow on separate trees, so at least two trees are needed for seed production. They produce high numbers of seeds every year starting at age 10. New trees can also grow from the roots or sprout from stumps, with each tree producing numerous suckers.
Manitoba maple trees have thin bark, making it easy for them to be damaged by fire or other means, such as grazing animals. Their branches break off easily, so ice and wind can do a lot of damage. They also attract some insects. Boxelder bugs, aphids, borers, scale insects and leaf feeders do little damage. In shelter belts and urban areas, canker worms can defoliate the trees. Verticillium wilt fungi will kill the tree. Another fungus stains the wood red without damaging the tree. Fungus like large leaf spot and powdery mildew will cause damage.
Manitoba maples can survive across a wide range of North American climates and soil types. It can handle partial shade, and while it is drought tolerant, it prefers a moist site. It grows well in slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils and can handle moderately saline soil.
Because of their rapid growth, Manitoba maples are ideal for shelter belts and their shallow fibrous root system provides some erosion control. They are sometimes used as ornamentals, though they are not generally considered attractive and are easily damaged. The wood is soft and not considered very useful, but it can be used for boxes, rough construction and cheap furniture. It is sometimes used to make decorative pieces like bowls, because of the red color the wood turns when it is injured. It can also be used as pulpwood product. The sap can be used to make syrup, but it is not as sweet as sugar maple syrup.