Scientific name: Acer negundo var. violaceum
Common Name: Box Elder Tree, Pink Tassel Tree
Acer negundo var. violaceum, referred to as the Box Elder, is a large, fast-growing deciduous tree. Growing to a height of 7-10 metres and 5-6 metres wide, they can be a great feature tree in any garden. Box Elder can be planted in pairs or rowed alongside a long driveway to make a big statement to the entrance of a home or garden. They also look fantastic planted out on acreage properties in mass numbers and are becoming a popular option for bonsai enthusiasts.
One of the best features of these trees (in my opinion) is the delicate pendulous pink flowers that appear in late winter to early spring. The flowers only last for a few weeks before dropping to the ground. Do not be deterred as the fallen flowers do not leave behind much mess and it will not leave the gardenbed or pathways looking untidy. Once the flowers have finished, coppery-green pinnate leaves emerge turning to a rich dark green colour as they age throughout the season. During the autumn months the foliage gradually changes from deep green to a vibrant golden-yellow before dropping all of the foliage in the winter months. Fallen foliage breaks down very quickly and rarely requires any cleaning up which makes them an ideal shade or feature tree.Box Elder are extremely tough as they can be grown in full day sun to partial shade and can tolerate frosts, coastal conditions and even cold, high-altitude areas. It almost sounds too good to be true. They sound like the dream tree don’t they! Well just to add the cherry on top of the cake, they can also be grown in a board range of soil conditions. They can be grown in a range of soil pH, either slightly alkaline or acidic. If your garden has sandy or clay soil there is no need to worry as the Box Elder can be grown in either soil type. However, if you have sandy soil it would benefit the tree in the early stages of its establishment, to mix in a standard bag of compost into the soil to help improve the soil’s structure. Adding a layer of mulch approximately 1-2 inches thick will help to retain moister during the dry warmer months of the year.Acer negundo var. violaceumm is not a tree you see in many gardens. This isn’t due to the size or the look of the tree, but due to the lack of acknowledgment of its pure existence and it is a shame it is not used more often in garden designs. This is one tree that can be show stopper in any garden and will have everyone talking! Until next time, happy gardening!
By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs