Help ID'ing a tree - boxelder?

Hello,
I have lots of trees in my yard. For years I never identified them, or even appreciated what each tree provided in characteristics or individuality to the forest.
But over the past few weeks I've been pursuing leaf identification at a frantic pace, enjoying using the web and learning about the various trees and their abilities. I learned about such trees as the tulip poplar, sassafras, basswood, honeylocust, hornbeam, the difference between red & white oaks and many others.
However, there is one tree that slightly eludes me. Around here It is an extremely tall tree, sometimes even taller than the oaks. One was hit by lightning or by wind and now over 30 feet of it hangs over the forest, waiting to either survive a few more years or to finally rot and collapse. From what I've found online it looks like it might be a boxelder, since the 3-leaf poison-ivy-type leaf structure looks similar, but my tree's 3-leaves were much smoother than the pictures I've seen. There are no hickory nuts on it, so I can guess it's not a hickory :) The bark is very light gray, but not as white as a white oak's.
Also one more question - do shagbark hickory's ultimately lose their shagginess and gain a tougher, thicker-looking bark? I am asking because I've seed trees I thought were large hickories (3 foot dia trunk), but did not have the shaggy bark of younger-looking hickories.
Thanks very much, Dan northwest NJ
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Dirr describes the leaves of Boxelder (Acer negundo) thus:
"Opposite, pinnately compound, 3 to 5 (7 to 9) leaflets, ovate or lance-oblong, 2 to 4" long, coarsely serrate or terminal one lobed, bright green above, glabrous, lighter green beneath and slightly pubescent or eventually glabrous; petiole---2 to 3" long."
So I doubt it's Boxelder.
One of the best books I've found for keying out trees and shrubs is 'Peterson's Field Guide to Trees of North America'...
In answer to your question, no, Shagbark Hickory's bark only becomes more shaggy with time..
Dave

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There's a tree in Ohio (probably in NJ also) whose nuts look _kind_ of like hickory, but the tree has smooth bark and the nuts aren't good to eat. Our family used to call them pignuts.
cheers,
Marj
* * * Marj Tiefert: http://www.mindspring.com/~mtiefert/ Mediterranean Garden Shop: http://stores.tiefert.com/garden / In Sunset zone 14-mild
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There are a few ways to Identify a boxelder. The one and 2 year old stems will be green still and smell HORRIBLE when you crush or bruise them. Also, they have opposite leaves like all maples, which is a charachteristic shared by only a handful of trees. Another way to tell is if the above are true and the leaf scars almost encircle the stem. Not exactly an arisocratic tree, but it serves its purpose.
Toad
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On Mon, 11 Aug 2003 14:40:04 GMT, "David J Bockman"

I think it might be a white ash. I looked up some pictures online and the 3-leaf arrangement looks very familiar, albeit the leaves on these trees look "whispier", much thinner than the picture of ash leaves online. The bark is also a gray color, and makes occasional "diamonds" while going up the tree. These trees are tall, some are taller than the resident oaks, but most are about average to all the other trees.
Dan
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If you can post good quality images of the bark and leaf arrangement to ABPG, I'm sure we can nail the ID. I agree that the characteristics you've shared so far are along the lines of white ash, especially the diamond pattern to the bark. Look around on the ground for examples of the fruit-- if it's ash there will be samaras that look like canoe paddles, 1-2" long and about one-quarter inch wide.
Dave
wrote:

bright
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