Edible usesThere are no edible uses listed for Alnus glutinosa.
This is an excellent pioneer species for re-establishing woodlands on disused farmland, difficult sites etc. 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]. Because they tolerate very poor soils and also produce nitrogen nodules on their roots, alders are suitable for use in land reclamation schemes. The plants can be used as a source of biomass. According to the phytomass files, annual productivity is estimated at 6 to 9 tonnes per hectare. The tree has yielded 11.8 tonnes per hectare per annum on pulverized fuel ash and annual productivity has been estimated at 8.66 tonnes per hectare, with 5.87 tonnes in wood, bark, and branches, 2.79 tonnes in foliage. Alder has been recommended for consideration for firewood plantations in Tropical highlands where unseasonable cold might destroy the red alder. The powdered bark has been used as an ingredient of toothpastes. Sticks of the bark have been chewed as tooth cleaners. An ink and a tawny-red dye are obtained from the bark. A green dye is obtained from the catkins. A pinkish-fawn dye is obtained from the fresh green wood. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark and young shoots. A cinnamon dye is obtained from the shoots if they are harvested in March. If they are dried and powdered then the colour will be a tawny shade. The bark and the fruits contain up to 20% tannin, but they also contain so much dyestuff (imparting a dark red shade) that this limits their usefulness. The leaves are also a good source of tannin. The leaves are clammy and, if spread in a room, are said to catch fleas and flies on their glutinous surface.Wood - very durable in water, elastic, soft, fairly light, easily worked, easily split. It is often used for situations where it has to remain underwater and is also used for furniture, pencils, bowls, woodcuts, clogs etc. It is much valued by cabinet makers. The wood also makes a good charcoal.
If you have sufficient quantity of seed, it can be sown thinly in an outdoor seed bed in the spring. 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 glutinosa. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
The leaves often remain green on the tree until November, or even later on young seedlings. The seeds contain a margin of air-filled tissue and are capable of floating in water for 30 days before becoming waterlogged. This enables distribution of the seed by water. The alder has a very rapid early growth, specimens 5 years old from seed were 4 metres tall even though growing in a very windy site in Cornwall[K]. 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. Nitrogen-fixation by trees up to 8 years old has been put at 125 kg/ha/yr., for 20 years at 56 - 130 kg/ha/yr.. Trees often produce adventitious roots from near the base of the stem and these give additional support in unstable soils. Trees are very tolerant of cutting and were at one time much coppiced for their wood which had a variety of uses. Alders are an important food plant for the caterpillars of many butterfly and moth species and also for small birds in winter.There are 90 insect species associated with this tree.There are some named varieties, selected for their ornamental value
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Alnus glutinosa.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
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