Uses

Toxic parts

The freshly harvested inner bark is emetic but is alright once it has been dried[1].

Edible uses

Notes

Catkins - raw or cooked. They are rich in protein but have a bitter flavour and are not very palatable[1].

Inner bark - cooked, It must be dried since it is emetic when fresh[2][3][4]. No more details are given but inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread[K]. Sap - raw[5]. Harvested in late winter, the flow is best on a warm, sunny day that follows a cold frosty night. A sweet flavour, it was often used to sweeten other foods[6].

Buds[2][4]. No further information is given, does this refer to the flower buds or leaf buds?[K]

Flowers

Inner bark

Material uses

A fast-growing and very wind resistant tree, it is an excellent plant for providing rapidly produced shelterbelts[K]. The trees extensive root system also makes it suitable for controlling erosion along the banks of rivers[7].

This is an excellent pioneer species for re-establishing woodlands on disused farmland, difficult sites etc[7]. Its fast rate of growth means that it quickly provides sheltered conditions to allow more permanent woodland trees to become established. In addition, bacteria on the roots fix atmospheric nitrogen - whilst this enables the tree to grow well in quite poor soils it also makes some of this nitrogen available to other plants growing nearby. Alder trees also have a heavy leaf canopy and when the leaves fall in the autumn they help to build up the humus content of the soil. Alder seedlings do not compete well in shady woodland conditions and so this species gradually dies out as the other trees become established[K]. Tannin is obtained from the bark and the strobils[8]. Both the roots and the young shoots have been used in making baskets[6]. A red to brown dye is obtained from the bark[9][5][6].

Wood - soft, brittle, not strong, light, close and straight-grained, very durable in water[8]. An important lumber tree, it makes a good imitation mahogany[10][11] and is used for cheap furniture etc[12][9][8][13][14]. A good fuel, it does not spark so can be used in the open[10][5][1], it also makes a high grade charcoal[11].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Red alder was widely employed medicinally by native North American Indians who mainly used the bark to treat a wide range of complaints[6]. The plant is little used in modern herbalism[K].

The bark is appetizer, astringent, cathartic, cytostatic, emetic, stomachic and tonic[9][1][6]. The bark contains salicin[7], which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body[15]. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge[7]. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of many complaints such as headaches, rheumatic pains, internal injuries and diarrhoea[7][6]. Externally, a poultice of the bark has been applied to eczema, sores and aches[6]. The sap is applied externally to cuts[6].

The catkins and young cones are astringent and have been chewed in the treatment of diarrhoea[6].

Catkins

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Canopy

Ecological Functions

Pioneer


Windbreak


Earth stabiliser


Hedge


Nitrogen fixer

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe and only just covered[16]. Spring sown seed should also germinate successfully so long as it is not covered[200, K]. The seed should germinate in the spring as the weather warms up. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. If growth is sufficient, it is possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in pots outdoors and plant them out in the spring.

If you have sufficient quantity of seed, it can be sown thinly in an outdoor seed bed in the spring[17]. The seedlings can either be planted out into their permanent positions in the autumn/winter, or they can be allowed to grow on in the seed bed for a further season before planting them.

Cuttings of mature wood, taken as soon as the leaves fall in autumn, outdoors in sandy soil.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Alnus rubra. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Prefers a heavy soil and a damp situation[18][19]. Grows well in heavy clay soils[19]. Tolerates very infertile sites[16]. A very wind resistant tree with excellent establishment in severely exposed sites, it tolerates severe maritime exposure[75, K].

The red alder is a very fast growing tree, even when planted in severe exposure[75, 229, K], but it is short-lived, dying when 60 - 80 years old[14]. Trees that are 5 years old from seed have reached 6 metres in height on a very exposed site in Cornwall, they are showing no signs of wind-shaping[K]. This is an important pioneer tree, quickly invading logged or burnt over sites, and providing ideal conditions for other trees to become established[229, K]. A very ornamental tree[18].

This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[16]. Red alder has been estimated to fix as much as 300 kg of nitrogen per hectare[20].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Alnus rubra. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Alnus rubra.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Alnus rubra
Genus
Alnus
Family
Betulaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
6
Heat Zone
?
Water
high
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
  • Maritime exposure
Ecosystems
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Life
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
20 x
Fertility
?
Pollinators
?
Flower Colour
?
Flower Type

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References

  1. ? 1.01.11.21.31.41.51.6 Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
  2. ? 2.02.12.2 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (32202/01/01)
  3. ? 3.03.1 Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237. U.S. Depf of Agriculture. ()
  4. ? 4.04.14.2 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (32202/01/01)
  5. ? 5.05.15.25.35.4 Gunther. E. Ethnobotany of Western Washington. University of Washington Press ISBN 0-295-95258-X (32202/01/01)
  6. ? 6.006.016.026.036.046.056.066.076.086.096.106.11 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (32202/01/01)
  7. ? 7.07.17.27.37.47.57.6 Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Ontario. ISBN 0889025649 (32202/01/01)
  8. ? 8.08.18.28.3 Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. ISBN 0-486-20278-X (32202/01/01)
  9. ? 9.09.19.29.39.4 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (32202/01/01)
  10. ? 10.010.110.210.3 Hitchcock. C. L. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press (32202/01/01)
  11. ? 11.011.111.2 Haywood. V. H. Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-217674-9 ()
  12. ? 12.012.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (32202/01/01)
  13. ? 13.013.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (32202/01/01)
  14. ? 14.014.114.2 Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (32202/01/01)
  15. ? 15.015.1 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (32202/01/01)
  16. ? 16.016.116.216.3 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (32202/01/01)
  17. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (32202/01/01)
  18. ? 18.018.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (32202/01/01)
  19. ? 19.019.119.2 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (32202/01/01)
  20. ? Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops - (32202/01/01)



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Facts about "Alnus rubra"RDF feed
Article is incompleteNo +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupNo +
Belongs to familyBetulaceae +
Belongs to genusAlnus +
Functions asPioneer +, Windbreak +, Earth stabiliser +, Hedge + and Nitrogen fixer +
Has common nameRed Alder +
Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
Has edible partFlowers +, Inner bark + and Sap +
Has edible useUnknown use +
Has environmental toleranceMaritime exposure + and High wind +
Has flowers of typeMonoecious +
Has growth rateVigorous +
Has hardiness zone6 +
Has imageAlnus rubra 9819.JPG +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useCharcoal +, Dye +, Fuel +, Tannin + and Wood +
Has mature height20 +
Has medicinal partBark + and Catkins +
Has medicinal useAnodyne +, Appetizer +, Astringent +, Cathartic +, Cytostatic +, Febrifuge +, Skin +, Stomachic +, TB +, Tonic + and Diahhreoa +
Has primary imageAlnus rubra 9819.JPG +
Has search namealnus rubra + and x +
Has seed requiring scarificationNo +
Has seed requiring stratificationNo +
Has shade toleranceLight shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
Has soil teclayture preferenceClay +
Has soil teheavy clayture preferenceHeavy clay +
Has soil teloamyture preferenceLoamy +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomy nameAlnus rubra +
Has water requirementshigh +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy +
Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
Tolerates air pollutionNo +
Tolerates maritime exposureYes +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +