Black Alderss

Black Alder

This genus of 35 species of deciduous trees and shrubs is found mainly in northern temperate regions. Alders are adaptable, fast-growing, and excel in damp situations. Alnus glutinosa is very hardy and thrives in wet soils, making it a good choice for bog gardens and waterside places. The piles of wood upon which 16th-century Venice was built are reputedly made from alder, and it has also been used for making dishes, spoons, canoe paddles, cradles, and clogs. A number of different alders are used for lumber, dyes, and medicinal purposes. These include A. rubra (Oregon alder, red alder), a western N American species that is highly prized for smoking fish, A. rugosa (speckled alder), and A. serrulata (hazel alder, smooth alder) of eastern N America. All were major sources of astringent remedies to native people.

Bushy tree with purple to gray-brown bark, pendent twigs, and obovate leaves, 3-9cm (1¼-3½in) long. Flowers appear in early spring; male catkins are 2.5-6cm (1-2½in) long, females shorter, followed by ovoid fruits, 1-2cm (½-¾in) long.

Common Name:
Black Alder
Other Names:
Common alder, European alder
Botanical Name:
Alnus glutinosa
Rich, moist to wet soil in sun or partial shade.
By seed sown in autumn or spring; by suckers detached in autumn; by hardwood cuttings in early winter. Trees may be coppiced to minimize damage from harvesting of bark.
Bark of young twigs and two-to three-year-old branches is peeled off lengthwise when fresh, and dried for decoctions and powders. Leaves area picked in summer and used fresh.
Native Region:
Europe and Asia
25m (80ft)
10m (30ft)
Has yellow young leaves.

Is a graceful tree with deeply cut leaves.

Has upright branches
Height: 15m (50ft)
Width: 5m (15ft)
Parts Used:
Bark, leaves
An astringent, tonic herb that encourages healing of damaged tissue.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally and externally to control bleeding, and for rheumatism (bark). Externally for throat, mouth and dental infections, wounds, and scabies (bark); as a poultice for inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism (leaves).
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pp 114-115.