Alder Tree

A Beginner’s Guide to the Alder Tree


The alder tree is actually quite common, which is a member of the birch family.  In all, 30 species exists, which includes both trees and shrubs.  This type of tree can be found in northern regions of the Americas but it also grows in Argentina.  Interestingly, while leaves are deciduous, they are not a part of the evergreen family.  Instead, leaves are simple but also segregated.

Flowers of the alder tree are called catkins, which are elongated.  However, male catkins are actually longer than female catkins.  Pollination of the flowers is done most commonly by bees, which are attracted to both female and male flowers.  Another fascinating aspect of the alder tree is that many other plants in the birch family with female flowers being woody.  With this, as they age, they do not disintegrate but instead they open up, which releases seeds that help spread and produce more alders.

The largest of the alder tree is the Red Alder.  This grows in North America, specifically on the west coast, while the Black Alder is found throughout Europe.  One of the rarest species is the Green Alder, which is a shorter type of shrub whereas the Red and Black Alder grow to great heights.  Therefore, no matter the look you want to achieve, you would simply choose the appropriate alder.

The alder tree establishes actinobacteria Frankielli alni, bacterium capable of converting nitrogen in the atmosphere into soluble nitrates in the soil, which alders need.  In addition, the alder tree would grow better when other plants are grown nearby, which help pull nitrogen from the atmosphere and creating a richer soil.  Because of this unique process, alder leaves make an excellent addition to any compost pile.

Researchers have also found that the alder tree can grow well in acidic soil and in fact, forests that have been burned have proven to be great sites to grow this particular plant.  Studies also show that the alder tree can grow in extremely dry soil and sites of mines.  With such diversity, this particular tree has proven to be an excellent solution for places around the world where trees and shrubs typically could not grow.

The alder tree also serves a number of benefits such as being a great choice as a natural wind break.  Therefore, people living on high bluffs where wind is a problem could plant a row of alder trees that would protect the home.  Even in Scotland, a line of alder trees is often used for providing gardens with protection from wind.

You will also find that wood from the alder tree has become a popular choice used for cabinetry and furniture.  The closed grain is easy to paint, stain, and finish and this type of lumber is strong and durable.  Just as with other wood, items made from wood coming from the alder tree come in a variety of grades although each are considered quality and this wood is very affordable, making it a great choice for people on a budget.



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