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Life History and Disturbance Response of Acer negundo (boxelder)
Family: Aceraceae
Guild: opportunistic, fast-growing understory tolerant
Functional Lifeform: small to medium-size deciduous tree
Ecological Role: pioneer on disturbed, open sites; gradually replaces early, shade-intolerant colonizers on river floodplains and moist uplands
Lifespan, yrs (typical/max): 75/100
Shade Tolerance: tolerant
Height, m: 12-15
Canopy Tree: yes
Pollination Agent: wind
Seeding, yrs (begins/optimal/declines): 8/30/75
Mast Frequency, yrs: 1
New Cohorts Source: seeds or sprouts
Flowering Dates: late spring
Flowers/Cones Damaged by Frost: no
Seedfall Begins: early fall
Seed Banking: up to 1 yr
Cold Stratification Required: yes
Seed Type/Dispersal Distance/Agent: winged/ to 200 m/ wind
Season of Germination: spring
Seedling Rooting System: taproot and laterals
Sprouting: stump sprouts and root suckers common
Establishment Seedbed Preferences:
Substrate: variable
Light: overstory shade
Moisture: moist required
Temperature: neutral
Disturbance response:
Fire: Boxelder grows on moist bottomland sites where fire rarely occurs. Because its bark is thin, boxelder is susceptible to topkilling from fire, but sprouts readily from the root crown or caudex. Although the relationship between fire and seedling production is unknown, boxelder is a pioneer species that produces copious numbers of wind-dispersed seed and would likely colonize newly-burned sites rapidly. It is likely to increase in density following fire.
Weather: Boxelder is resistant to drought and cold, but ice and wind damage is common in older trees.
Air pollution: The variety A. negundo interius (Manitoba maple) is sensitive to sulphur dioxide. Boxelder is sensitive to intermediate in sensitivity to ozone, and is sensitive to hydrogen fluoride.