Alnus rubra - Red alder

Alnus rubra - Red alder



Family: Betulaceae

Common name(s): Red alder

General bloom time: early spring, tree will flower with red blossoms

Identification: deciduous tree; can reach nearly 25 feet in height; bark is thin, grey, and smooth often with patches of lichens; wood turns red when cut

Leaves: alternate; broadly elliptic and sharp-pointed at the base and tip; can be anywhere from 5-15 cm long; dull green and smooth above and rust-colored and hairy below; margins are wavy and slightly rolled under; coarse, blunt teeth; leaves remain mainly green until they drop in the late fall

Fruit: clusters of brownish cones to 2 cm long; contain oval, winged nutlets

Habitat: prefers moist woods and streambanks and recently cleared lands; low elevations

Ecology: Western tiger caterpillars eat the leaves.

Image Credit: Marvin Kellar 


Fun Facts:

-       Considered the best wood for smoking salmon

-       The bark was renowned for its medicinal qualities

Places to find in Portland: Forest Park


Pojar, J. & A. MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Vancouver B.C., Lone Pine Publishing.