April 2001
Plant of the Month
European Alder
(Alnus glutinosa)
zone: 4
by Bill Boyle

Plant of the Month
European Alder
Alnus glutinosa

In a time when new houses are being built in every imaginable piece of open ground, a new challenge is being issued to the landscape, that being what to plant in areas that are not always favorable to the vigor of many shade trees. One tree which may serve to eliminate some of these problems is the European or Black Alder. This is a tree, which will thrive in some of the most difficult of soil types. It seems to thrive equally well in extremely wet as well as very dry areas.

This tree is a fast grower and will reach a height of 40 feet to 60 feet, with an oblong, irregular head. It is usually grown as a clump form for the best landscape appeal. Although it has a rather fast growth rate, brittle wood does not seem to be a significant problem.

It produces nutlets in October, which persist into the winter months for added winter interest.

The leaf is a glossy green in summer turning yellow in fall.

Alder is easily transplanted and is not greatly affected by soil pH.

This is definitely a plant with great possibilities for use in some of the problem situations which are made even worse with the over use of lawn sprinklers and the locating of new housing in areas with poor drainage and is something to be considered for those who prefer a more natural effect.

By: Bill Boyle
Wilson’s Nursery

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