37 Alder Tree Facts: Habitat, Symbolism, Uses And More | Kidadl

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37 Alder Tree Facts: Habitat, Symbolism, Uses And More

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Alder is a conical-shaped tree.

The branches are grayish-white, and the tree will have a purple sheen during spring. Alders are pioneers.

A tree that loves water is what alders are. These non-native species are believed to have arrived on North American shores around 8000 BC. Since arrival, alders have made themselves at home. The tree is known as a pioneer due to its ability to colonize in unfriendly conditions. Thanks to the alder tree, the ecology of an area starts gradually flourishing. First, the tree germinates and colonizes. Then it stabilizes the wetland soil. It shelters all kinds of fauna like birds, insects, and mammals. The tree's flowers, leaves, twigs, and seeds are consumed by fauna, helping them to flourish. That is why the alder is seen as a superhero among trees.

Learn about this incredible pioneer and the multiple roles it plays in the environment.

Facts About Alder Trees

Water-loving alders can be found all over the Northern Hemisphere. Here are some fun facts about alders.

  • Alder trees belong to the family of Birch and the scientific family of Betulaceae.
  • Globally, there are 30 alder species. The scientific name of the common alder is Alnus glutinosa. The alder tree is referred to by many names like alder, black alder, and European alder. The red alder is known as Alnus rubra scientifically, whereas the Sitka alder is known as Alnus viridis​.
  • It is estimated that an alder tree lives about 60 years. These thin yet conical-shaped trees can be recognized by their long height. These trees can grow up to 91.9 ft (28 m).
  • The alder tree bark is gray with white flecks. They start as conical-shaped, but adult species become more oval and rounded.
  • The common alder is recognizable because it has a purple sheen and the appearance of the male and female flowers in spring.
  • The leaf is round and jagged, and the seeds develop larger cones than the cones found in pines. The seeds easily get dispersed with the wind and germinate at the edge of water bodies.
  • These trees are monoecious; male and female flowers exist in the same tree. The flowers appear in the form of catkins or cones. The male cones are yellow, long in size, and can be found dangling from the trees. The female cones are green in color, round in size, and appear in groups.
  • There is a reason alders can colonize so well. Their seeds are unique, allowing them to be carried in the wind and float in the water.
  • Alders are pioneers. They can establish themselves in areas where other species are unable to thrive.
  • Sitka and green alder are often kept as shrubs to protect from wind or landscaping.

Alder Tree Symbolism

Alders have been mentioned in mythology and associated with a range of magical properties. From Celts to Irishmen considered alder trees and their various spiritual, fertile, and magical parts.

  • In Celtic mythology, alders have an important place. They symbolize the balance between males and females. This is because the alder trees have both male and female flowers in them.
  • It is also a symbol of fertility as the alder tree grows up in bare environments and converts it into a lush and fertile ground by supporting plant and animal life.
  • In Irish tradition, the first man came from the alder.
  • The tree was connected with the God Bran, who carried alder branches and twigs for protection in the Battle of the Trees.
  • In Ireland, it is considered bad luck to cut down alder trees. It was believed that the alder tree spirit would get angry and burn houses.
  • Alder twigs are used as charms in faerie magic.
The largest species of alder trees are the red and the black alder.

Alder Tree Uses

Alder trees are pretty valuable and suitable for many things. Different parts of the tree have their own function. The treated alder wood is used in building and construction, and so on.

  • The trending wood, alder, comes from these trees. Its growing popularity as a building or furniture material is due to its hardy, sustainable, versatile, and abundant nature. Alder wood is compliant so that manufacturers can use it in multiple styles.
  • The alder tree has been used for medicinal purposes.
  • Alder leaves are used to fight skin irritations and inflammation. The leaf can be rubbed on the problem area to alleviate the itching and burning.
  • Indians used to use the bark of the red alder to solve digestive issues.
  • Black alder is also used for medicinal purposes. They have been used to stop bleeding, sore throat, constipation, and fever and relieve symptoms of medical issues like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. But there is insufficient evidence about the effectiveness of the black alder in solving these issues.
  • The bark of the tree is also used to treat insect bites.
  • The alder cones may be bitter, but they are rich in protein. They have been used as a survival food historically by Native Americans.
  • Even the inner bark of the alder trees is consumed during spring.
  • Alder tree bark was used to create dye, specifically orange dye.
  • Alder wood is also used in crafting utensils and instruments.
  • Many like to smoke their salmon with alder wood as it burns well.

Alder Tree Habitat

Alders are water-loving trees. They can grow in any area with damp conditions in the ground. So, the alder's habitat is wet areas like marshes, rivers, lakes, and so on.

  • The Alder grows around wetlands.
  • The tree roots prefer damp conditions in the soil. Hence, they can be found growing along banks of rivers, marshes, and so on.
  • The great part about the alder tree is that its roots help stabilize the loose soil besides water bodies.
  • In terms of weather, alders require a cool climate to survive and flourish. However, some alders can be found in drier areas, including forest edges and mixed woodlands.
  • In terms of soil fertility, alders can also grow in nitrogen-poor soils. This is because of its association with Frankia alni, a nitrogen-fixing bacteria. It allows the alder seeds to develop and colonize even in poor soil conditions as long as their dampness.
  • The 30 species of Alnus are distributed worldwide in the north temperate zone, North America, Central America, and South America.
  • Alder trees play an important role in building and repairing a habitat.
  • Small herbivores like deers and moose eat the tree's twigs.
  • The leaf is eaten by invertebrates who are consumed by salmon and other fish.
  • Beavers eat the bark and use the branches to build their famous dams.
Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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