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Overview

Brief Summary

Betulaceae -- Birch family

    David T. Funk

    European alder (Alnus glutinosa), also called black alder  or European black alder, was introduced to eastern North America  in colonial times. This tree ranges in size from a large shrub to  a large tree. It has escaped cultivation and grows naturally on  lowlying lands. Its rapid growth, tolerance for acid soils, and  nitrogen-fixing role make European alder desirable for  shelterbelts, reclamation areas, landscapes, and biomass  production. It is valuable to wildlife for providing good cover  and a source of seeds.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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David T. Funk

Source: Silvics of North America

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Comprehensive Description

Description

This tree is typically 40-70' tall. It has a single or 2-3 trunks and a variably shaped crown. Trunk bark of mature trees is grey or brownish grey, dividing into flattened plates that are separated by broad shallow furrows. The bark of young trees is light gray to greenish gray and more smooth with transverse white lenticels. Alternate leaves up to 5" long and 3½" across occur along the smaller branches and twigs; they are obovate or orbicular-obovate in shape, while their margins are crenate-dentate and slightly undulate. The leaf tips are rounded or slightly indented, while their bases are wedge-shaped (cuneate) to rounded. The upper leaf surface is dark green and glabrous (or nearly so), while the lower surface is more pale and either glabrous or slightly hairy along the undersides of the veins. Young leaves and shoots are often sticky from a resin. The slender petioles are light green, glabrous, and up to 1" long. Black Alder is monoecious, producing separate male (staminate) and female (pistillate) florets on the same tree. The male florets are produced in clusters of 2-5 catkins. Mature male catkins are 2-3" long, reddish yellow, narrowly cylindrical, and drooping. Within each of these catkins, there are tiny clusters of 3-6 florets that are partially hidden by individual bractlets. Each male floret consists of a 4-lobed calyx and 4 stamens, while each bractlet is oval in shape. The female florets are produced in branching clusters of 2-5 cone-like catkins (less often, occurring as a single catkin). These catkins are initially about ¼" long, but they later become ¾-1" long and ½" across. Within each of these catkins, there are tiny clusters of 2-3 female florets that are partially hidden by individual bractlets. Each female floret consists of a naked ovary with a pair of tiny styles at its apex. The blooming period occurs during the spring before the leaves develop; the florets are cross-pollinated by wind. After the blooming period, the male catkins wither away, while the female catkins persist through the summer, releasing their seeds during the fall. At this time, the bractlets of the cone-like female catkins have become brown and woody; individual bractlets are narrowly oblanceolate with 4-5 short stubby lobes. Individual seeds are obovoid and flattened; their margins are not significantly winged. The female catkins usually persist on the tree through the winter. The root system is woody and branching. Cultivation
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Comments

This introduced tree is larger in size than the native Alnus spp. (Alders) in Illinois, and it is less tolerant of waterlogged conditions. The leaves of Black Alder tend to have fewer veins (7 or less) than those of the native Alders, and their shape tends to be more broad (sometimes nearly orbicular). The scientific name 'glutinosa' refers to the gummy resin that covers young leaves and shoots. Another common name of this species is European Alder.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This species was introduced from Europe and should not be confused with native alders. The leaf, flower, and fruit are similar to the native shrub alders found along the streams of the Northeast. Black alder is a tree that can grow 60-70 feet tall. The leaf is smooth, 3-5 inches long, with a serrated margin. Small, winged seed is produced in little woody cone-like fruits. The bark is dark brown, with prominent warty strips.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

Alnus alnus (L.) Britt.

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Black Alder is uncommon as a naturalized tree in Illinois, occurring in widely scattered areas in the NE, east-central, and southern sections of the state (see Distribution Map). It was introduced into the United States from Europe as a landscape plant. Habitats consist primarily of streambanks and low areas along rivers. Black Alder has been used to control water erosion along streambanks and it is sometimes used to rehabilitate mined land.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

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Range Description

Widely distributed in Europe, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Himalayas.
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European alder has a broad natural range that includes most of  Europe and extends into North Africa, Asia Minor, and western  Siberia (82). Densest distribution is in the lowlands of northern  Germany, northern Poland, White Russia, and the northwestern  Ukraine (33). The species is locally naturalized throughout the  northeastern United States and maritime Canada.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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David T. Funk

Source: Silvics of North America

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Ont.; Conn., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Mass., Mich., Minn., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Pa., R.I., Wis.; Europe.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Distribution and adaptation

Black alder will grow on a wide variety of soils, from well drained to somewhat poorly drained with light to moderate textures. It does not do well on droughty or wet sites. The species is hardy to the south shore of Lake Ontario, and to northeast Kansas but may not be reliable in USDA zone 4 or colder.

For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Trees , to 20 m; trunks often several, crowns narrow. Bark dark brown, smooth, becoming darker and breaking into shallow fissures in age; lenticels pale, horizontal. Winter buds stipitate, ellipsoid to obovoid, 6--10 mm, apex obtuse; stalks 2--5 mm; scales 2--3, outer 2 equal, valvate, usually heavily resin-coated. Leaf blade obovate to nearly orbiculate, 3--9 × 3--8 cm, leathery, base obtuse to broadly cuneate, margins flat, coarsely and often irregularly doubly serrate to nearly dentate, major teeth acute to obtuse or rounded, apex often retuse or obcordate, or occasionally rounded; surfaces abaxially glabrous to sparsely pubescent, often more heavily on veins, both surfaces heavily resin-coated. Inflorescences formed season before flowering and exposed during winter; staminate catkins in 1 or more clusters of 2--5, 4--13 cm; pistillate catkins in 1 or more clusters of 2--5. Flowering before new growth in spring. Infructescences ovoid to nearly globose, 1.2--2.5 × 1--1.5 cm; peduncles 1--10(--20) mm. Samaras obovate, wings reduced to narrow, thickened ridges. 2 n = 28.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Betula alnus Linnaeus var. (a) glutinosa Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 983. 1753
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Ecology

Habitat

Soils and Topography

European alder grows well on acid soils, and its growth is reduced  under the alkaline or near-neutral conditions that are desirable  for many other species.

    The author is Assistant Director, Northeastern Forest Experiment  Station, Radnor, PA.

    During their first growing season in most types of soils alder  seedlings form root nodules that are the site of nitrogen  fixation. Seedlings already nodulated grow satisfactorily when  outplanted on sites with pH as low as 3.3; plants not already  nodulated usually die under these very acid conditions (27,77).  Nodules develop satisfactorily at pH as low as 4.2 (8), but  seedlings were stunted and had poor root systems and chlorotic  leaves when grown in clay soil with pH between 8.0 and 8.5 (63).  Optimum soil pH for nodulation appears to be between 5.5 and 7.0  (35). Spoil-bank plantations in Ohio and Kentucky verify the  minimum pH for satisfactory European alder growth as about 3.4  (30,55). On very acid (pH 2.9) coal spoils in Indiana, alder  survival, growth, and root nodule weight were all increased by  liming sufficient to raise pH to at least 6.1 (eventually  declining to 4.8) (41). In a greenhouse experiment using acidic  Pennsylvania mine spoil, alders did not respond to lime  amendments until phosphorus was also added (89).

    Both nodulated and nonnodulated alders require molybdenum for  nitrogen metabolism (6,42); adequate amounts of Mo are present in  most soils, although it may not be available on strongly acid  sites. On sites with poor internal drainage, European alder can  tolerate iron concentrations normally toxic to many plants (44).  On tidal flats adjacent to the English Channel, the chlorine  concentration of the soil solution in the root zone of mature  alders occasionally rises to 5 percent of that of sea water  immediately following equinoctial high tides (78).

    European alder is responsive to differences in soil moisture  (5,40), and growth often is notably better on lower slopes than  on upper slopes. Alder utilizes intermittently moist sites very  well (56). It is "a species of stream and lake sides and ...  soils of impeded drainage throughout the British Isles,"  although not topographically limited to such sites if rainfall is  high (60). Even though alder tolerates heavy soils better than  most trees, reduced soil oxygen (especially below 5 percent)  inhibits root nodulation and the growth of nodulated plants (57).

    In a species with such a broad natural range, altitudinal  distribution is bound to be related to latitude. European alder  is found at sea level at the northern limits of its range, up to  300 in (985 ft) in Norway, 600 in (1,970 ft) in the Harz  Mountains of Saxony, 850 in (2,790 ft) in the Bavarian Mountains,  1300 in (4,270 ft) in the Tyrol and in Greece, and 1800 in (5,900  ft) in the Caucasus (60,88). The most common soils on which it  grows in North America occur in the orders Histosols,  Inceptisols, and Entisols.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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David T. Funk

Source: Silvics of North America

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

Black Alder is uncommon as a naturalized tree in Illinois, occurring in widely scattered areas in the NE, east-central, and southern sections of the state (see Distribution Map). It was introduced into the United States from Europe as a landscape plant. Habitats consist primarily of streambanks and low areas along rivers. Black Alder has been used to control water erosion along streambanks and it is sometimes used to rehabilitate mined land.
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Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Climate

The duration of low winter temperature limits the range of  European alder in Scandinavia because the species does not extend  into regions where the mean daily temperature is above freezing  for less than 6 months of the year. The southeastern boundary of  European alder distribution in Eurasia corresponds closely with  the 500 mm (20 in) annual rainfall line (60). European alder is  hardy to winter temperatures of -54° C (-65° F) (36),  but apparent winter damage to young European alder plantings in  North Carolina resulted in partial to complete dieback of 80  percent of the trees. Relatively early low temperatures in  November and December were probably responsible for the damage,  rather than extreme cold, as the overwinter minimum was only -18°  C (0° F) (9).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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David T. Funk

Source: Silvics of North America

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Stream banks, moist flood plains, damp depressions, borders of wetlands; 0--200m.
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Dispersal

Establishment

Planting 1-0 nursery bare-root stock is preferred. Older

plants are usually too large for easy planting. Take care to properly place the root system in the planting hole or trench. Black alder will respond to phosphorus fertilizer, particularly when planted in acid soils. Plant dormant stock early in the spring as possible. Containerized plants can be planted in early summer as well. There are 321,000 seeds per pound.

Black alder should be planted in mixtures with other species for critical area treatment. Spacings of 6x6 to 10x10 work well. Under-seeding with a cool season grass mixture is recommended.

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Associations

Faunal Associations

Because little is known specifically about floral-faunal relationships for Black Alder in North America, the following information applies to Alnus spp. (Alders) in general. Alder is a food plant of many insects. For example, the caterpillars of the butterfly Polygonia faunus (Green Comma) feed on alder, as do the caterpillars of many species of moths (see Moth Table). Other insect feeders include the larvae of Eriocampa ovata (Woolly Alder Sawfly) and Trichiosoma triangulum (Cimbicid Sawfly sp.), several leaf beetles (mainly Calligrapha spp. & Chrysomela spp.), the larvae of the long-horned beetles Saperda obliqua (Alder Borer) and Xylotrechus quadrimaculatus (Birch & Beech Girdler), the weevil Himatolobus pubescens, the aphids Prociphilus tessellatus and Pterocallis alnifoliae, Psylla floccosa (Cottony Alder Psyllid), Clastoptera obtusa (Alder Spittlebug), Corythucha pergandei (Alder Lace Bug), and Elasmostethus cruciatus (Red-Cross Shield Bug). Among vertebrate animals, such birds as the Eastern Goldfinch, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, White-Winged Crossbill, Woodcock, and Ruffed Grouse eat the seeds; the latter two bird species also eat the catkins and/or buds. Other animals that use alder as a food plant include the Beaver (bark & wood), White-Tailed Deer and Elk (twigs & leaves), the Woodland Jumping Mouse (cones & seeds), and the Wood Turtle, Clemmys insculpta (fallen leaves). Sometimes, alder is used as nesting habitat and cover for the Rusty Grackle and other birds.
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Plant / associate
Abdera flexuosa is associated with Alnus glutinosa

Plant / associate
Agelastica alni is associated with Alnus glutinosa

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / miner
larva of Anoplus roboris mines leaf of Alnus glutinosa
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
Armillaria mellea s.l. infects and damages Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / gall
egg of Blepharidopterus angulatus causes gall of twig (1-2 years old) of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / saprobe
effused fruitbody of Bulbillomyces farinosus is saprobic on sodden, decaying wood of Alnus glutinosa

Plant / associate
Calambus bipustulatus is associated with Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / sap sucker
Chionaspis salicis sucks sap of live stem of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / feeds on
imago of Chrysomela aenea feeds on Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / pathogen
1-2+ apothecium of Ciboria alni infects and damages fallen, blackened and sclerotified female cone of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 2-3

Foodplant / sap sucker
adult of Compsidolon salicellus sucks sap of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 7-10

Foodplant / mobile cased feeder
larva of Cryptocephalus coryli grazes in mobile case on fallen leaf of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: captive: in captivity, culture, or experimentally induced

Foodplant / saprobe
Cryptococcus aquaticus is saprobic on dead, rotting leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / saprobe
subepidermal stroma of Cytospora coelomycetous anamorph of Cytospora occulta is saprobic on dead, dry branch of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 3-4

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial stroma of Daldinia petriniae is saprobic on wood of Alnus glutinosa
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / roller
larva of Deporaus betulae rolls leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered or gregarious, erumpent through a short slit pycnidium of Phomopsis coelomycetous anamorph of Diaporthe alnea is saprobic on dead, dry twig of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 5-6

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Dryocoetinus alni feeds within cambium of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Eriocampa ovata grazes on leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Ernoporus fagi feeds within cambium of Alnus glutinosa
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
Erysiphe penicillata parasitises Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / sap sucker
Gonocerus acuteangulatus sucks sap of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Gyrodon lividus is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Alnus glutinosa

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Hypholoma myosotis is associated with Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Inonotus radiatus is saprobic on trunk of Alnus glutinosa
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / sap sucker
nymph of Kleidocerys resedae sucks sap of live catkin of Alnus glutinosa
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Lactarius lilacinus is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: Other: uncertain
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / feeds on
larva of Luperus flavipes feeds on Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / feeds on
larva of Luperus longicornis feeds on Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / web feeder
communal caterpillar of Malacosoma neustria feeds from web on live leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous uredium of Melampsoridium betulinum parasitises live leaf of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 8-10
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous, subepidermal, scattered or in groups telium of Melampsoridium hiratsukanum parasitises live leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Plant / associate
larva of Meliscaeva auricollis is associated with psyllid-infested Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Monosoma pulverata grazes on leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Mycena rhenana is saprobic on dead, fallen, decaying cone of debris of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / parasite
Mycosphaerella conglomerata parasitises Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Nematus pavidus grazes on leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Nematus polyspilus grazes on leaf of Alnus glutinosa
Other: sole host/prey

Plant / associate
Orthotylus flavinervis is associated with Alnus glutinosa
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / feeds on
Orthotylus marginalis feeds on Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / spot causer
hypophyllous, effuse colony of Passalora dematiaceous anamorph of Passalora bacilligera causes spots on live leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Paxillus rubicundulus is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / sap sucker
Pentatoma rufipes sucks sap of Alnus glutinosa
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous Phyllactinia guttata parasitises live leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / pathogen
Phytophthora alni infects and damages tarry spotted trunk of Alnus glutinosa
Other: major host/prey

Plant / associate
Poecilium alni is associated with Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / sap sucker
nymph of Psallus ambiguus sucks sap of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 5

Foodplant / sap sucker
adult of Psallus salicis sucks sap of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: late 7-9

Foodplant / feeds on
imago of Psallus scholtzi feeds on Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: (7)8(9)

Foodplant / sap sucker
nymph of Psylla alni sucks sap of live, with white wax tufts twig of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: late 5-

Foodplant / sap sucker
Pulvinaria vitis sucks sap of live stem of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 5-6

Foodplant / spot causer
amphigenous colony of Ramularia hyphomycetous anamorph of Ramularia alnicola var. alnicola causes spots on live leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / feeds on
larva of Rhynchaenus testaceus feeds on Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Rhynchites nanus feeds within bud (vegetative) of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / spot causer
epiphyllous, scattered, semi-immersed, minute, black pycnidium of Septoria coelomycetous anamorph of Septoria alnicola causes spots on live leaf of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 10

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous ascoma of Taphrina sadebeckii parasitises live, curled leaf of Alnus glutinosa

Foodplant / gall
amphigenous ascoma of Taphrina tosquinetii causes gall of enlarged, thickened, blistered, rather brittle, incurved leaf of Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 6-9

Plant / resting place / on
female of Thrips alni may be found on live Alnus glutinosa
Remarks: season: 8

Plant / epiphyte
colony of Trentepohlia abietina grows on bark of Alnus glutinosa

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Associated Forest Cover

Natural alder communities include ash, birch, willow, and oak, "forming  ash-alder wood on low-lying ground of high soil fertility and  moisture, alder-willow thickets in areas liable to seasonal  flooding, and alder-birch wood on higher lying, less fertile,  generally acid soils.... Pure stands are ... common, but not as  extensive in Britain as, for example, in northwest Germany"  (60). European alder and gray willow, Salix cinerea  atrocinerea, form a tidal woodland near the upper limits of a  salt marsh on the Cornish coast. In the absence of disturbance,  the alder-willow community succeeds the marsh (78).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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David T. Funk

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

In a Scottish plantation survey,  European alder suffered less damage by deer browsing and rubbing  than did birch, willow, or other hardwood species (2). In  contrast, deer browsed more than half the European alder  seedlings in a 2-yearold plantation in Pennsylvania; damage was  much less on Japanese larch (Larix leptolepis), white  spruce (Picea glauca), eastern white pine, and red pine  (Pinus resinosa) (26).

    Dozens of insects and diseases have been observed on European  alder but few cause serious damage. Among pests recognized as  potentially troublesome is the striped alder sawfly, Hernichroa  crocea, a native of Europe that is now found across northern  United States and Canada. It produces two generations per year.  From July through September larvae occasionally eat all of the  alder leaves except the midrib and larger veins (93).

    The European alder leafminer, Fenusa dohrnii, is another  introduced species. It makes blotch mines on alder leaves in the  northern United States and southeastern Canada (5). The alder  flea beetle, Altica ambiens alni, feeds on both surfaces  of alder leaves from Maine to New Mexico. It is sometimes a pest  of alders in recreational areas and along roadsides (93). The  woolly alder aphid, Prociphilus tesselatus, is  distributed throughout the eastern United States and is often  abundant on alder. Although it causes little direct damage, it is  suspected of weakening the trees and providing infection courts  for subsequent fungal attack.

    Several fungus species have been isolated from Alnus glutinosa  trees that died back following woolly aphid infestations.  They include Botryodiplodia theobromae (76) which has not  been confirmed as pathogenic. In an A. glutinosa seed  production plantation in Kentucky, Phornopsis alnea caused  basal stem cankers and eventual mortality as great as 17 percent  (71). In northern Mississippi, occasional alder trees infested  with woolly aphids are heavily damaged by sapsuckers (103). Alder  seems to be very resistant to chronic ozone fumigation (45); in  contrast, it is more susceptible to S02 damage than most species  (94).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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General Ecology

Reaction to Competition

The alder is primarily a pioneer  and opportunist species, and is capable of direct colonization of  even the rawest of soil material.... The species acts as a  pioneer on hydroseres, being capable of colonizing at very early  stages in the primary succession if good seed is available. Alder  carr (deciduous woodland or scrub on a permanently wet, organic  soil) does not succeed an earlier Salix and Rharnnus  carr, though these species may colonize simultaneously, and  pure alder carr eventually results from the greater vigour and  longevity of the alders" (65).

    In central Switzerland, alder is considered to be more shade  tolerant than willow (Salix spp.), larch (Larix spp.),  poplar (Populus spp.), birch (Betula spp.), or Scotch  pine (Pinus syluestris); equal in tolerance to ash Traxinus  spp.); apd less tolerant than eastern white pine (Pinus  strobus) or Douglasfir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) (50). Overall,  it is classed as intolerant of shade (18).

    In Yugoslavia and Germany, European alder is grown on 40- to  80-year rotations, depending on intensity of thinning and  products desired. The stand is clearcut at the end of the  rotation and replanted with 1-year seedlings or 1-1 transplants.

    Nursery practice for European alder is fairly routine, and 1-year  seedlings are usually large enough for outplanting. Liberal  irrigation following sowing is essential for good seed  germination.

    Alder has generally beneficial effects on associated plants. Part  of the nitrogen fixed by alders soon becomes available to other  species in mixed stands, especially through mineralization of  nitrogen leached from litter. Norway spruce (Picea abiesgrown in pots with European alder "obtained nitrogen  fixed in the root nodules of alder although leaves falling in  autumn were always carefully removed" (98).

    In a 3-year-old Wisconsin plantation, hybrid poplars in a  plantation spaced at 1.2 by 1.2 in (3.9 by 3.9 ft) grew 21  percent taller in a 1:2 mixture with European alder than when  grown without alder (4.9 m versus 4.0 m; 16.0 ft versus 13.1 ft).  This growth increase corresponded closely with that achieved  through optimal ammonium nitrate fertilizer treatment, which  stimulated a 24 percent increase (39). Similar results were  obtained in Quebec where mixed plantings of two alders per poplar  yielded slightly more total biomass at age 3 than pure alder  plantings and 50 percent more than pure hybrid poplar (16).

    European alder often is recommended for use in mixed plantings  with other species on nitrogen-poor sites. On strip-mined sites  in eastern Kentucky, 10 coniferous and broadleaved species were  grown in alternate rows with European alder at 2.1 by 2.1 m (6 :  9 by 6.9 ft) spacing; after 10 years, trees grown in mixture with  alder were 11 to 84 percent taller and 20 to 200 percent larger  in diameter than the same species grown without alder (75).

    In northern Bohemia, Populus x berolinensis used for  strip-mine reclamation averaged 12.5 m (41 ft) tall at age 14 in  pure plantings but grew to 14 m (46 ft) in mixture with Alnus  glutinosa; poplars in the mixed planting were also much  straighter (24).

    In southern Indiana, European alder seedlings were interplanted  into a 2-year-old plantation of black walnut (Juglans nigraon well-drained silt loam soil. Ten years after  interplanting, walnuts grown in mixture with alder averaged 5.3  in (17.5 ft) tall against 4.2 in (13.8 ft) in pure stands; alder  stimulated an increase in walnut diameter from 5.6 cm (2.2 in) to  6.9 cm (2.7 in) (14). In contrast, at four locations in Illinois  and Missouri, alder interplanted with walnut suddenly declined  and died after 8-13 years. Allelopathy caused by juglone was the  only cause of death that could be substantiated (80).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Rooting Habit

Alder has been characterized as  possessing an extensive root system of both surface and deep  branches, which enables it to survive on either waterlogged soils  or those with a deep water table (60). In Germany, European alder  is considered to be the deepest rooting indigenous tree species  (86). Alder's deeply penetrating taproots often extend well below  normal water table; if the water level falls, these roots are  well situated to use deep-lying soil moisture not available to  the upper portion of the root system. This may explain alder's  outstanding success on spoil banks (37,64).

    Generally, there are two kinds of alder root nodules. One is a  large, perennial, usually single nodule sometimes 5 cm (2 in) or  more in diameter (21) and most often situated near the root  crown. These nodules may persist as long as 10 years, with those  in the 4- to 5-year age class making up the greatest proportion  of the weight of nodules per tree (1). The other type is  ephemeral, much smallertypically 1.5 to 3 mm (0.06 to 0.12 in) in  diameterand generally distributed throughout the surface root  system. Becking found that molybdenum-deficient alder plants  formed many small nodules of much reduced total dry weight and  exhibited associated nitrogen deficiency. Plants with an adequate  molybdenum supply had mainly single large nodules (6).

    The most striking effect of alders on soil is nitrogen enrichment.  Not only is alder leaf litter rich in nitrogen (68), but many  nitrogenous compounds are heavily concentrated in alder roots and  root nodules (99). In European alder seedlings, rate of nitrogen  fixation is closely related to nodule fresh

    weight and total plant dry weight, suggesting that selection for  growth should also achieve gains in nitrogen fixation (4). In  Quebec, 3- and 4-year-old alders planted at 33 cin by 33 cm (13  in by 13 in) spacing fixed nitrogen at an annual rate of 53 kg/ha  (47 lb/acre) (15).

    Fixation of atmospheric nitrogen by alders takes place in root  vesicles (67) and nodules (8). In a greenhouse experiment,  maximum nitrogen fixation in young European alder plants occurred  in late August; throughout the growing season about 90 percent of  the nitrogen fixed was steadily transferred from the nodules to  the rest of the plant (91). In an alder grove growing on peat in  the Netherlands, nitrogen fixation was also found to peak in  August (1).

    European alder (as well as other Alnus species) differs  from most deciduous tree species in retaining much foliar  nitrogen in the leaves until they fall (17). In a southern  Illinois plantation, nitrogen content of leaves decreased by only  one-sixth from midsummer until leaf fall. At the time of the last  collection, in mid-November, leaf nitrogen content was about 2.6  percent; thus there was a substantial quantity of nitrogen to be  dropped in the leaf litter (21).

    In Finland, a 13-year-old European alder plantation and a  55-year-old natural stand were sampled for 4 years. Alder litter  averaged 2690 and 3705 kg/ha (2,400 and 3,305 lb/acre) per year  (ovendried), respectively, and contributed about 82 percent of  the total annual litter production. Total nitrogen content of the  leaf litter averaged 77 kg/ha (69 lb/acre) per year, reaching a  high of 101 kg/ha (90 lb/acre) in 1 year in the plantation.  NH4-nitrogen in the upper 3-cm layer of soil rose from 180 mg/kg  (180 p/m) before leaf fall to 270 mg/kg (270 p/m) after leaf  fall, indicating that at least part of the nitrogen of alder leaf  litter was rapidly mineralized (69).

    Prodigious amounts of litter can accumulate under alder stands.  For instance, 10 species of pines and deciduous trees were  planted on a Kentucky strip mine with and without alternate rows  of European alder. After 10 years, 28.7 t/ha (12.8 tons/acre) of  litter accumulated in the plantings without alder, while 61.7  t/ha (27.5 tons/acre) built up under the stands with a 50 percent  alder component. The relative contribution of alder leaf fall and  increased litter production of the other species, stimulated by  the alder, could not be determined. In the spring of the 10th  growing season, the pH of the spoil beneath the stand containing  alder was significantly lower than the plantings without alder.  Similarly, the concentration of total soluble salts was  consistently higher, both spring and fall, in the stands with  alder than in those without (75).

    European alder leaf litter readily gives up watersoluble organic  substances, losing 12 percent of its dry weight after only 1  day's leaching in cold water. Alder litter was also found to  decompose faster than that of beech or oak (70). The C:N ratio of  alder foliage suspended in a stream declined rapidly from 19 to  about 13 within a month after leaf fall, then more slowly to 11  (near the effective mineralization optimum) after 6 months (13).

    Other components of alders also accumulate considerable nitrogen.  In a plantation on a good alluvial site in western Kentucky the  following nitrogen contents (percent dry weight) were measured at  the end of the fourth growing season (adapted from 104):

    Even young alders can fix and add significant amounts of nitrogen  to soil. A Padus silt loam in Wisconsin averaged 966 mg/kg (966  p/m) of nitrogen in the upper 4 cm (1.5 in) of dry soil before  1-year-old European alder seedlings were planted. After two  growing seasons, soil nitrogen (at the same depth) had increased  222 mg/kg (222 p/m) in soil immediately adjacent to the alders  and by 158 mg/kg (158 p/m) at a distance of 15 cin (6 in) (39).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering early spring.
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Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

- European alder commonly  sprouts from the stump after cutting, and live branches can be  layered successfully. Root suckers are rare (60). In coastal  southern Sweden, alders live to maximum age of 100 years but  frequently produce basal sprouts and form multi-stemmed stumps  following death of the original stem (18).

    Air-layering of alder shoots has been 89 to 100 percent successful  (84). The rooting ability of greenwood cuttings of European alder  seedlings less than 4 years old was found to be generally high;  over an 18- to 20-month period, 100 to 200 cuttings were  successfully rooted from each ortet (25).

    Alnus glutinosa can be readily propagated by in vitro  tissue culture. Plantlets of several clones were rooted  within 3 weeks, subsequently transferred to soil mix, and  maintained in good physiological state for as long as 4 years  (90).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seedling Development

Seeds buried more than 0.5  cin (0.2 in) deep germin4e satisfactorily but many of the new  seedlings fail to emerge (62). The soil need not be saturated to  gain good seed germination, but high air humidity is essential.  In regions with only 50 to 65 cm (20 to 25 in) of annual  rainfall, "alder seedlings will only establish where the  surface soil falls within the capillary fringe of the water table  so that it remains constantly moist for 20 to 30 days in the  spring (March to May)" (63).

    Alder seedlings can survive, although not thrive, under conditions  of flooding that would kill off the seedlings of most other  forest trees. In a British experiment, seedlings did not live  indefinitely with their entire root systems completely submerged  and were quickly killed by such treatment during the growing  season. Nevertheless, when the water level was maintained flush  with the top of the soil, the more robust seedlings were able to  produce adventitious roots at the soil surface and their growth  was hindered very little (63). The original roots of European  alder can grow actively during periods of flooding lasting for as  long as 1 week and resume growth after longer periods of flooding  (31). In another greenhouse study, alder seedlings were  successfully grown in oxygen-free soil, outperforming white  willow (Salix alba) under such conditions (10).

    Growth of young potted European alder seedlings was not inhibited  by addition of foliage litter of six herbaceous species that did  inhibit growth of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). Alder  seedling growth and root nodulation were more than doubled by  addition of crownvetch (Coronilla varia) litter (49).

    A light intensity equivalent to about 5 percent of full daylight  is essential for first-year alder establishment; for survival in  subsequent years about 20 percent of full daylight is required  (63). "First-year seedlings and 2- to 3-year-old plants up  to 5 cin (2 in) in height are frequent in some woods, but  complete internal regeneration is seldom seen. Regeneration tends  to be peripheral, or to occur with the formation of an even-aged  stand" (60).

    Natural alder seedlings in Croatia grow to be about 0.5 in (1.7  ft) tall in their first year (32), but seedlings in American  nurseries are not always as large.

    Alder seedlings are associated with actinomycetes and mycorrhizae.  Development of nitrogen-fixing root nodules in European alder is  induced through root-hair infection by actinomycetes of the genus  Frankia. Actinomycetous endophytes isolated from European  alder are cross-infective with other Alnus species and  even other genera such as sweetfern (Comptonia) and  bayberry (Myrica) (38). Thus, even though European alder is not  native to the United States, suitably infective actinomycetes may  be available wherever it is planted (20). On the other hand, in a  greenhouse study, European alders inoculated with native European  endophytes grew six times faster than those inoculated with a  Comptonia isolate (59). Strongly infective Frankia  strains are not necessarily effective in stimulating rapid  alder growth, and those that produce spores may be weak ly  parasitic, rather than symbiotic (58).

    European alder has been found associated with at least six  mycorrhizal fungi. Suitable symbionts appear to be widely  available, as both ectomycorrhizae and endomycorrhizae were found  on root samples taken from European alder plantations in Iowa, on  coal strip mines in Ohio, and on kaolin spoils is Georgia (38).  Ecto-, endo- and ectendomycorrhizae were described as associated  with European alder of Bohemian lignite spoil banks. The  endomycorrhizae were found only below 10 cm (4 in) depth (66). 

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seed Production and Dissemination

In Europe,  alder may not produce a uniform seed crop every year (61) but  abundant crops are frequent (56). Plantations in the eastern  United States seem to bear out both points: seed crops do vary  from year to year and they are generally rather heavy. European  alder (fig. 1) is precocious; some trees begin to flower at the  beginning of their second growing season and by their sixth or  seventh year are producing large quantities of seeds. Several  hundred strobiles may develop on a 6- to 9-m (20- to 30-ft) tree,  and in summer and early autumn the mass of maturing fruit  approximates the mass of foliage (74). Seeds average 60 per  catkin (60). The seeds are very small brown nuts, ranging from  about 240,000/kg (110,000/lb) (56) to as many as 1,400,000/kg  (639,000/lb) (87).

    Seeds begin to fall in late September or early October and the  best seeds usually fall first (11,92). Seed dispersal continues  throughout the winter. Very few alder seeds remain viable beyond  the first germination season (62). Seed production as high as 18  kg/ha (16 lb/acre) has been achieved in a 14-year-old grafted  orchard in southwestern Germany; yields of 5 to 13 kg/ha (4.5 to  12 lb/acre) were more typical (54).

    Although European alder seeds can germinate immediately after they  are shed, stratification and cold treatment enhance their  germination capacity (85). Seeds collected before strobiles turn  brown require several months of afterripening to germinate (60).  Epigeal germination in the nursery is prompt; it begins 10 to 20  days after spring sowing and is essentially complete within 2  weeks. Germination is notably better at pH 4 than at higher or  lower pH (85).

    Production of containerized alder seedlings allows them to be  inoculated with Frankia and assures their nodulation  prior to planting. A I to 1 ratio of peat and vermiculite in the  potting mix is recommended (7).

    European alder seeds have no wings; therefore, despite their small  size they are usually not spread more than 30 to 60 in (100 to  200 ft) by the wind, although they may occasionally be blown much  farther over the top of crusted snow. Where wind is the only  likely means of dissemination, alder saplings are rarely found  more than 20 to 30 in (65 to 100 ft) from the parent tree. The  seeds contain an air bladder and float in water, and McVean holds  that rather than wind, running water and wind drift over standing  water are the principal agents of dispersal (62). Naturalized  European alder stands in the United States are most commonly  found adjacent to streams.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Flowering and Fruiting

European alder is  monoecious; flowers of both sexes emerge from buds that begin to  develop about 9 to 10 months before pollination. These preformed  buds allow an early estimate of the following year's seed crop.  Male buds are distinctly longer than female buds-about 1 cm (0.4  in) compared to about 3 mm (0.1 in)-and grow nearer the tips of  branchlets. They remain green until December and grow  intermittently throughout the winter (74). Female flowers are 1  to 1.5 cm (0.4 to 0.6 in) long when mature; male catkins are from  5 to 13 cm (2 to 5 in) long. They vary in color from tree to  tree, over a range from light peach to deep purple. Occasional  bisexual catkins are found.

    A general calendar of seed formation is as follows (61,74): Styles  begin to form in July, year 1; rest period follows from August,  year 1 to February, year 2; pollination occurs in February to  March, year 2; placenta forms in May, year 2; ovules form in  June, year 2; ovary begins to grow from June to July, year 2;  embryo sacs are formed in July, year 2; fertilization takes place  from late July to early August, year 2; embryo grows throughout  August, year 2; embryo ripens throughout September and  germination first becomes possible during this month. Seeds are  mature when their pericarps turn brown, although the cones remain  green until the seeds are released.

    As an exception to this calendar, pollination is sometimes delayed  until early April in the northeastern United States. The  flowering schedule is typically dichogamous.

    Most European alder trees are virtually self-sterile (61), but  certain selfed trees have produced seed with germination  percentages as high as 8 percent (81). Viability of  cross-pollinated seed ranged from 8 to 90 percent (61,81).  Viability of pollen was greater than 99 percent at the time of  collection (61) but fell to about 1 percent after 50 days storage  (73). Individual trees in Iowa set a good crop of seed every  year, but the percentage of filled, viable seed ranged from 0 to  90 percent. Because fertilization occurs in July and August, the  developing embryo may be especially vulnerable to heat and  moisture stress. Seed with little or no viability was produced in  years of severe summer drought (37).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

Height growth begins in midApril  and continues through July or August. Saplings may continue  growing into September or October (59,101). In the mountains of  Czechoslovakia, 90 percent of diameter growth takes place between  midMay and mid-August, a growing season almost identical to that  of European beech (Fagus syluatica) (12). In Switzerland,  alder root growth commenced about 4 days after the beginning of  vegetative bud swelling and about 5 weeks before the beginning of  branch extension growth (51). Root growth resumes in October and  continues throughout the winter except when the ground is frozen  (79).

    Height growth of alder seedlings planted on rather acid (pH 4.3 to  4.5) strip-mined lAnd in Ohio falls between normal yield values  (table 1) for site classes I and 11 at age 16 (29). On a  moderately permeable bottom-land site in southern Illinois,  9-year-old European alder outgrew predicted height values and  averaged 11.2 m (36.8 ft) tall, and 13.7 cm (5.4 in) in d.b.h.  (72). Height growth slowed markedly (80) over the next 5 years in  this widely spaced plantation, and at age 14 the trees averaged  12.3 m (40.4 ft) tall and 20.1 cm (7.9 in) in d.b.h. (table 2).  European alder usually reaches two-thirds of its maximum height  by age 25 (33) but may survive for 120 years on the best sites,  growing to be at least I in (3 ft) in diameter (60). The root  wood of European alder has lower specific gravity than the stem  wood but longer fibers with thinner walls (100). In an Ohio  stripmine plantation, stem wood specific gravity averaged 0.39  and did not vary with age or geographic origin of the trees.  Fiber length increased from 0.71 min (0.28 in) at age 5 to 0.93  min (0.36 in) at age 17 (83).

    Representative percent chemical composition of European alder from  two points of view has been reported. The first was based on  total aboveground biomass, 4-year-old trees (104); the second was  based on leaf litter from four stands (69):

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

Population Differences    In an extensive progeny test of select European alder parent  trees, heritability of height growth was good at age 7. Most good  clones performed consistently when used as either male or female  parents. The general superiority of alders from the moraine  region of upper Bavaria was confirmed (102).

    Races and Hybrids    Over the broad range of European alder, racial development is to  be expected, but within regions, variation is sometimes slight.  Fifteen European alder provenance collections, grown on  calcareous spoil banks in southern Ohio for 16 years, differed  sharply in both growth and survival. Most of the trees originated  in central and north-central Europe; survival was best for three  seedlots of central German provenance. Trees from Diessen,  Bavaria, grew to be 21 percent taller and 20 percent larger in  diameter than the plantation mean and averaged 0.57 rn (1.87 ft)  per year in height growth over the past 10 years. Alders of  Uppland, Sweden, provenance were almost complete failures, being  only 3.5 m (11.5 ft) tall with 11 percent survival after 16 years  (29).

    The 16-year results reported above are reasonably consistent with  those at age 6, with one striking exception. Trees from Peiting,  Bavaria, formerly second tallest in the plantation (28), have  virtually collapsed, with survival declining to 37 percent, and  height growth over the past 10 years least of all except for the  trees from Uppland, Sweden (29). Similar results are reported  from European alder trials in the Netherlands, where trees from  three German seed sources grew rapidly for 7 years and then  slowly for the following 3 years (96). The need for caution in  making early selections is obvious.

    In a larger but younger provenance trial in Pennsylvania, most  trees burst buds with a 4-day period well before the beginning of  the frost-free season. Most of the fastest growing trees  originated from the central part of the species'natural  distribution. About half the variation in total height was due to  rate of growth; the other half was due to length of the growing  season (23).

    European alders that grow fastest are more likely to be  single-stemmed. At age 6 in the Ohio test, the correlation  between height and number of stems per tree was -0.31 (28).

    European alder hybridizes readily with many other alders.  Particularly vigorous hybrids have been reported for A. cordata 
x A. glutinosa
(48), A. glutinosa
x A. incana 
(47), A. glutinosa
x A. rubra
(53), and A.  glutinosa x A. orientalis
(95).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Alnus glutinosa

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Alnus glutinosa

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 14
Specimens with Barcodes: 28
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2007

Assessor/s
Participants of the FFI/IUCN SSC Central Asian regional tree Red Listing workshop, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (11-13 July 2006)

Reviewer/s
Newton, A. & Eastwood, A. (Global Tree Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
A widespread species with a large extent of occurrence. Population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population size criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., less than 10,000 mature individuals in conjunction with appropriate decline rates and subpopulation qualifiers). Population trend has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the threshold for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, it is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Occurs in many protected areas.
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Control

Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

None have been released in the US. A few nurseries produce this tree to meet the needs of orchard and mine revegetation interests.

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All trees and shrubs respond very strongly to effective control of weeds and sod. Mechanical or chemical controls are acceptable as long as they are used according to the label. Failure to control sod will result in growth reduced by 50% or more.

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Weediness

This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed. Please consult with your local NRCS Field Office, Cooperative Extension Service office, or state natural resource or agriculture department regarding its status and use. Weed information is also available from the PLANTS Web site at plants.usda.gov.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Special Uses

European alder is valuable f-or wildlife. Because the cones open  gradually and release seed throughout the winter, they are a  dependable source of food for seed-eating birds such as pine  siskins and goldfinches. European alder is recommended for use in  shelterbelts to provide cover for pheasants. When combined with  Prunus laurocerasus and Sorbus aria it makes a  compact planting suitable for establishment adjacent to cropland  (34).

    Alders have been recommended for afforestation of disturbed areas  throughout much of the temperate world (46,52). Their tolerance  of low pH and their rapid growth, abundant leaf litter  production, and ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen combine to  make European alder especially desirable for planting on spoil  banks, which typically contain little organic matter and  available nitrogen.

    Establishing European alder on mined sites apparently improves  their suitability for earthworm habitat. Ten adult Lumbricus  terrestris worms were released in a 4-year-old A.  glutinosa plantation growing on calcareous coal spoil in  southern Ohio. After 5 years the population had increased to  60/m' (6/ft') as far as 15 m (50 ft) from the point of  introduction and was apparently still increasing, with obvious  desirable implications for hastening soil development (97).

    Alder is useful in urban forestry. A system for producing  containerized alder seedlings suitable for park and roadside  planting has been described. Trees grown in Iowa according to  these methods averaged 94 cm (37 in) tall after only 8 months  (19).

    Biomass use of European alder has potential. On a river terrace  site in northern Alabama, 6-year-old European alder produced more  than six times as much volume per tree as sycamore (Platanus  occidentalis) of the same age (22). Alders in southern  Illinois, planted at only 998 trees per hectare (404/acre) on a  bottom-land site, produced 54.7 t/ha (24.4 ton/acre) at age 9  (dry weight of entire tree, above ground) (72). Alder may be a  more promising species to grow in short-rotation,  intensive-culture plantations for cattle feed. Protein yield was  nearly that of alfalfa (3).

    Aboveground parts of European alder have energy values of about 5  Kcal/g (9,000 Btu/Ib) dry weight. Calorific value of branchwood  is 10 percent greater than that of bolewood (43).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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David T. Funk

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Uses

European black alder is a rapidly growing tree that is useful for planting on drastically disturbed and acid sites such as coal strip-mines. It is capable of nitrogen fixation though it is not a legume, so it is a soil improving species. Black alder is also an excellent choice for internal orchard windbreaks. It can be sheared to very narrow widths of 3-4 feet thick, and produces sufficient density to be effective. Black alder has been reported as invasive on some soil types. It should not be planted widely as a landscape or specimen tree.

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Risks

Caution

Caution: This plant could become invasive.
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Wikipedia

Alnus glutinosa

Alnus glutinosa (English: black alder, European alder or common alder) is a species of alder in the family Betulaceae, native to most of Europe, including all of the British Isles and Fennoscandia and locally in southwest Asia.[1][2]

Description[edit]

Foliage
Male inflorescence (left) and mature cones (right)

Alnus glutinosa is a tree that thrives in moist soils, and grows under favourable circumstances to a height of 20 to 30 metres (66 to 98 ft) and exceptionally up to 37 metres (121 ft).[3] Young trees have an upright habit of growth with a main axial stem but older trees develop an arched crown with crooked branches. The bark of young trees is smooth, glossy and greenish-brown while in older trees it is dark grey and fissured. The branches are smooth and somewhat sticky, being scattered with resinous warts. The buds are purplish-brown and have short stalks. Both male and female catkins develop in the autumn and remain dormant during the winter.[4]

The common alder is characterized by its 5–10 cm short-stalked rounded 6–12 cm long leaves becoming wedge-shaped at the base and with a slightly toothed margin. When young they are somewhat glutinous, whence the specific name, becoming later a glossy dark green. As with some other plants, growing near water it keeps its leaves longer than do trees in drier situations. The glossy green foliage lasts after other trees have put on the red or brown of autumn, which renders it valuable for landscape effect. As the Latin name glutinosa implies, the buds and young leaves are slightly sticky with a resinous gum.[1][5][6][7]

The species is monoecious. Flowers are wind-pollinated catkins: the slender cylindrical male catkins are pendulous, reddish in colour and 5–10 cm long; the female are smaller, 2 cm in length and dark brown to black in colour, hard, somewhat woody, and superficially similar to some conifer cones. When the small winged seeds have been scattered the ripe, woody, blackish cones remain, often lasting through the winter. The alder is readily propagated by seeds, but throws up root suckers abundantly.[1][5]

Important ecological relationships[edit]

Alnus glutinosa is most noted for the symbiotic relationship with the bacterium Frankia alni, which forms nodules on the tree's roots. This nitrogen-fixing bacterium absorbs nitrogen from the environment and fixes it into a form available to the tree. In return, the bacterium receives carbon which is produced by the tree through photosynthesis. This relationship, which improves the fertility of the soil environment, has established A. glutinosa as an important pioneer species in ecological succession.[8]

A. glutinosa is also a host to a wide variety of moss and lichen. Some common species found on A. glutinosa include: Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria), Stenocybe pullatula, and Menneguzzia terebrata.

Diseases[edit]

Alnus glutinosa is susceptible to Phytophthora alni, a recently evolved species of Phytophthora probably of hybrid origin. This is causing extensive mortality in some parts of Europe.[9]

Cultivation[edit]

It is important as coppice-wood on marshy ground. The alder is capable of enduring clipping as well as marine climatic conditions. The tree may be cultivated as a windbreak. It adapts to the conditions fast and the young trees also develop rapidly, almost growing about one meter or more in a year. Hence, the alder is an outstanding pioneer species for reinstating forestland or abandoned farmland and other problematic soils that do not support vegetation easily. Its rapid growth provides secluded conditions to establish more lasting forest trees. Besides, as nitrogen-fixing bacteria colonize the roots, it is able to enrich the soil and thereby help the proper growth of other plants which cannot cope with the impoverished conditions. Alder also provides shade to the plants growing below and the leaf fall helps to increase the amount of humus present in the soil.

The species is cultivated as a tree in parks and gardens, and the variety 'Imperialis' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[10]

Timber[edit]

The wood is soft, white when first cut, turning to pale red; the knots are beautifully mottled. Under water the wood is very durable, and it is therefore used for deep foundations of buildings. The supports of the Rialto in Venice, and many buildings in Amsterdam, are of alder wood. Furniture is sometimes made from the wood, as were clogs.[6]

As the wood is soft, flexible, somewhat light, it can be easily worked on as well as split. It is also valued furniture making, wood cuttings, clogs, pencils and bowls. In fact, cabinet makers value this wood very much.

Tanning and dyeing[edit]

The bark as well as the young shoots of the alder provides a yellow dye and if you add a tad of copper to it, they provide a yellowish-gray dye. This yellowish-gray dye is useful in half-tones and silhouettes of flesh in tapestry. If the shoots of the alder are cut in March, they will provide a cinnamon colored dye, but when they are dehydrated and powdered, they provide a yellowish-brown or orange shade. On the other hand, freshly cut wood of the alder provides a pinkish-brown or pinkish-fawn coloring, while the catkins provide a green dye. Even the leaves of the alder are used for tanning leather. The dye prepared from the alder leaves is slimy and it is said that if this dye is put out in a room, it will catch fleas on its viscous exterior.

The bark of the alder is combined with copperas (ferrous sulfate) and applied as a foundation for black dyes. When used alone, the bark of the tree dyes woolen clothes giving them a reddish hue called ‘Aldine Red’. The natives of Lapland called Lapps chew the bark of the alder and use the saliva to pigment garments made with leather. You are able to dye a profound boue de Paris with a solution prepared with an ounce of dehydrated and powdered bark of the alder simmered in three-fourth of a pint of water along with an equal proportion of logwood and a solution of six grains of tin, copper and bismuth each and two drops of iron vitriol.

The bark also yields a type of ink as well as an orange-red colorant, while a green pigment is obtained from the catkins of the alder. The fresh green wood yields a pinkish-beige dye, while a yellowish pigment is obtained from the alder bark as well as young branches. However, if the alder shoots are harvested in the month of March, they yield a cinnamon pigment. And when the same shoots are dried and powdered, they provide a yellowish-brown colorant.

Other uses[edit]

It is also the traditional wood burnt to produce smoked fish and other smoked foods, though in some areas other woods are more often used now. It supplies high quality charcoal.

The leaves of this tree are sticky in nature and if they are put out in a room, their gelatinous surface will catch flies and fleas.

Seeds of Alnus glutinosa contain hirsutanonol, oregonin and genkwanin.[11] PARTS USED Bark, leaves.

Herbal[edit]

The bark possesses curative, cathartic, astringent, antipyretic and stimulant or tonic properties. Ingesting the fresh bark may cause nausea and vomiting; hence it is advisable to use dried bark for emetic purposes. Usually, the dehydrated bark of young branches or the inside barks of branches that are about two to three years old are used for therapeutic purposes. Normally, the bark is collected during the spring, dried and then stored for later use.

The dehydrated and powdered form of alder bark is widely used as a constituent of toothpaste, mouthwash and gargle. Many people even chew sticks prepared from the bark as tooth cleaners. A decoction prepared with the bark has a drying action and is useful for tightening the mucous membranes as well as alleviating inflammation. This decoction may also be used to stop internal and external bleeding, and to cure injuries. This decoction is said to heal ague (a fit of shivering or shaking). A medication prepared with the leaves is also an effective wash for scabies. People in Spain curve the leaves of the alder and put them on the soles of aching feet. Herbalists often recommend the alder leaves for nursing mothers to help reduce breast inflammations.

Alpine farmers are said to use the alder leaves to alleviate rheumatism by placing a heated bag full of leaves on the affected areas. Alder leaves are consumed by cows, sheep, goats and horses. However, swine refuse to eat them. According to some people, consumption of alder leaves is harmful to horses, causing blackening of the tongue.

The inside bark boiled in vinegar is effective to eliminate lice as well as treat an assortment of skin conditions, for instance scabs and scabies. The leaves of the alder have astringent properties and are useful as galactagogue (helps in increasing milk yield in humans and animals) and anthelmintic. A decoction prepared with the alder leaves forms an excellent medication to treat breast inflammations in nursing mothers. According to records, ancient herbalists also recommended a decoction of the alder leaves to cure cancer of the face, throat, tongue, duodenum, esophagus, breast, rectum, pancreas, pylorus and uterus. The alder leaves are collected during the summer and always used fresh.

Bonsai[edit]

The common alder makes a large Bonsai, a quick grower it responds well to pruning but branches can be a bit coarse and leaf size not reducing as well as the Italian Alder leaves do.[12]

Weed status[edit]

A. glutinosa is classed as an environmental weed in New Zealand.[13]

Details of Alder structure and galls[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Trees for Life Species Profile: Alnus glutinosa
  2. ^ Flora Europaea – Alnus glutinosa
  3. ^ "Spitzenbäume". Land Brandenburg. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  4. ^ Vedel, Helge; Lange, Johan (1960). Trees and Bushes. Methuen. pp. 143–145. ISBN 9780416617801. 
  5. ^ a b Flora of NW Europe: Alnus glutinosa
  6. ^ a b British Trees: Alder
  7. ^ Floral Images: Alnus glutinosa photos
  8. ^ Schwencke, J.; Caru, M. (2001). "Advances in actinorhizal symbiosis: Host plant-Frankia interactions, biology, and application in arid land reclamation: A review". Arid Land Research and Management 15 (4): 285–327. doi:10.1080/153249801753127615. 
  9. ^ Phytophthora Disease of Alder
  10. ^ http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/plant?plantid=105
  11. ^ Hirsutanonol, oregonin and genkwanin from the seeds of Alnus glutinosa (Betulaceae). O'Rourke Ciara, Byres Maureen, Delazar Abbas, Kumarasamy Yashodharan, Nahar Lutfun, Stewart Fiona and Sarker Satyajit D., Biochemical systematics and ecology,2005, vol. 33, no7, pp. 749-752
  12. ^ D'Cruz, Mark. "Ma-Ke Bonsai Care Guide for Alnus glutinosa". Ma-Ke Bonsai. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  13. ^ Clayson, Howell (May 2008). Consolidated list of environmental weeds in New Zealand. Wellington: Department of Conservation. ISBN 978-0-478-14412-3. 

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Notes

Comments

Alnus glutinosa is cultivated as an ornamental tree throughout eastern North America and is available in a variety of cultivars, including cut-leafed and compact-branching forms. This species has also been used extensively to control erosion and improve the soil on recently cleared or unstable substrates, such as sand dunes and mine spoils. It has escaped and become widely naturalized throughout the temperate Northeast, occasionally becoming a weedy pest. In Europe the black alder has served for many centuries as an important source of hardwood for timbers and carved items, including wooden shoes. 

 Alnus glutinosa has been called A . vulgaris Hill in some older literature; that name was not validly published.

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