Box Elder

This fast growing, short lived tree grows to heights of up to seventy feet with a maximum trunk size of about three and a half feet. The wood of box elder is one of the lightest and weakest of the American maples. Close-grained and creamy white in color, a desirable box elder board has raspberry-colored streaks and flecks, a property that I find especially appealing for bowls, and  platters. The red streaks are produced by the tree’s natural defenses when wounded—it is thought that this compound inhibits the growth of fungus (Fusarium solani) that commonly colonizes the tree. Much of the reddish coloring becomes a more subdued pink or brown/gray upon drying.  Pieces with numerous small holes add to their beauty.