Color/Appearance:Sapwood is a pale white, sometimes with a yellow/green hue similar toyellow poplar. The heartwood is a grayish/yellowish brown, frequently with red or pink streaks. The red stain is produced by the tree’s natural defenses when wounded—it is thought that this compound is meant toinhibit the growth of fungus(Fusarium solani)that commonly colonizes the tree. Much of the reddish coloring (sometimes called “flame” by retailers) becomes a more subdued pink or brown/gray upon drying.
Grain/Texture:Grain is straight, with a fine even texture. The growth rings are usually faint and non-distinct.
Rot Resistance:Poor durability, rated as non-durable to perishable. Heartwood is subject to heart rot and insect attack.
Workability:Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Turns, glues, and finishes well.
Odor:Box Elder has a distinct and unpleasant scent when wet, which mostly subsides once dry.
Pricing/Availability:Seldom used or available in lumber form, box elder is occasionally harvested in small quantities by hobbyists or specialty sawmills—with lumber exhibiting reddish pink heartwood streaks being the most desirable. Dyed/stabilized burl blocks for use in turning projects are also offered. Prices should be moderate given box elder’s commonness, though figured pieces and/or burls are likely to be more expensive.
Sustainability:This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Turned objects, small ornamental objects, wood pulp, charcoal, boxes, and crates.