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Disclaimer: Before you try anything suggested below do your homework and learn to properly identify the tree.  I suggest you get a field guide to trees to properly i.d. them.  If you don’t have one already.

10 Ways To Use Box Elder (Acer Negundo)

Brief Description:

The maple group of deciduous trees and shrubs of the Northern Hemisphere are found chiefly in more temperate regions and on tropical mountain slopes.  Maples are very popular as shade trees and often have brilliantly colored foliage in the fall.

The box elder or ash-leaved maple is a smaller North American species also frequently planted as a shade tree.  It flowers between March and May, during which time many people with hay fever suffer a great deal because of its high pollen count during this time.

   1. Antidote for Mild Burns & Sunburns

Make an infusion (a process often called steeping) Boil one quart of water .  Add 1-1/4 cups coarsely chopped box elder bark, cover and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat, strain, and refrigerate in a zeer pot fridge.  Use on mild burns and sunburns, both as a wash and cold pack (with a piece of folded, clean cotton cloth).  This decoction helps to relieve the itching and inflammation of such burns and expedites the healing process to some degree.

   2. Wash Wounds, Back or Limb Pains, Hemorrhoids, Postmenopausal ailments and as a Vaginal Wash

Same steps to infusion as in #1

  3. An Emetic (induce vomiting)

If you eat something toxic by mistake.  You can use the same steps as in #1 only take orally instead of  topically.

  4. Primitive Friction Fire

The box elder is a softer wood and is great to make a friction fire set.

   5. Edible Too

  • Sap can be drunk as a sugary water or boiled down into syrup.
  • Mix the boiled sap with shavings from the inner sides of animal hides and eat them as candy.
  • Keep dry inner bark as winter food
  • The winged seeds (samarascan) be eaten raw, taste first if bitter leach to reduce bitterness.  Taste like peas.  You can eat the wings if you don’t want to remove them but they can be bitter and hard to digest.
  • The blossoms are good raw or cooked
  • The new growth buds when still green

  6. Around Base Camp 

  • Its a soft wood good for craving tasks (bowls, spoons).
  • Since its safe to eat its safe to cook with
  • Smoke your jerky

   7. Make Charcoal

  • Purification and filtration of water
  • Fuel of a blacksmith’s forge
  • Primitive tattooing
  • Art
  • Dietary supplement for gastric problems

   8. Cordage

   9. Primitive Shelter

  10.  Archery







Book: Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs & Spices by John Heinerman