Red Alder


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British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide

Redald.Jpg
RED ALDER
alnus rubra

  • The Red Alder is also known as Western Alder, Oregon Alder
  • The name red alder comes from the fact that the inner bark turns orange-red when exposed to air

UNIQUE FEATURES:

  • In the forest, the Red Alder develops a slightly tapered trunk with a narrow, rounded crown, in the open it has a broad cone shape with the crown starting near the trunk
  • Red Alder is BC's most important hardwood
  • While all other alders are only shrubs, the red alder is a large coastal tree
  • Red Alder puts nitrogen back into the soil
  • Red Alder is fast growing but only lives 40 to 60 years

LOCATION:

  • Red Alder is found on the entire coast of BC
  • Red Alder needs lots of sunshine
  • Prefers areas of recent disturbance
  • nutrient rich areas including floodplains, marshes and streambanks
  • Red Alder grows under 500 ft

SIZE:

  • Red Alder is medium sized, up to 24 metres in height
  • can be shrub-like in poor locations

FRUIT:

  • small (2 cm), woody, brown, oval shaped cones (female)
  • narrow winged seed

FLOWERS:

  • long (10 to 15 cm), drooping, reddish catkins (male)

LEAVES:

  • oval shaped, pointed tips, toothed edges
  • bright green with a greyish underside
  • edges often rolled under

BARK:

  • thin, greenish when young
  • becoming grey or whitish and slightly ridged with age
  • rough on the lower part of the trunk
  • when exposed to air, the inner bark turns reddish-orange

WOOD CHARACTERISTICS:

  • fine grained

USES:

  • modern - furniture, flooring, firewood
  • traditional - bark: dying basket material, fish nets, wood, wool, feathers as well as human hair and skin (colours ranged from black and brown to orangey-red; inner bark sometimes used for food; wood: carving bowls, spoons and platters, smoking meat, firewood

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Red Alder