Alnus serrulata

Botanical Name : Alnus serrulata
Family:    Betulaceae
Genus:    Alnus
Subgenus:Alnus
Species:A. serrulata
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:   Fagales

Synonyms: Alnus rubra (obsolete). Smooth Alder. Red Alder.

Common Names: Hazel alder, Oregon Alder

Habitat: Alnus serrulata  is native to eastern North America and can be found found from western Nova Scotia and southern New Brunswick south to Florida and Texas. It grows on moist rich soils in woods, usually below 600 metres and within 50 km of the coast.

Description:
Alnus serrulata is a large shrub or small tree that may grow up to 2.5-4 m (8-12 ft) high and 15 cm (6 in) in diameter. The scientific name originates from alnus which is an old name for alder; serrulata points to the finely-toothed leaf margins which it possesses. It takes about 10 yrs to mature. The plant prefers moist soil near streams, pond margins, and riversides. It usually has multiple stems from its base and reddish-green flowers. The broad, flat, dark green leaves are about 2 to 4 inches long.

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Leaf: The simple, round leaves are obovate, 2 to 5 in long, 1.2 to 2.8 in wide, obtuse, wider at middle, and V-shaped base. Veins are pinnate and conspicuous. Leaves have a smooth texture above and hairy texture below. The upper side of the leaves are dark green and the undersides are pale green.

Flower: The flowers are monoecious, meaning that both sexes are found on a single plant. Male (Staminate) catkins are 1.6-2.4 in long; female (Pistillate) catkins are 1/2 in long. Reddish-green flowers open in March to April.

Fruit: The ovate, dark brown, cone-like fruit is hard with winged scales. Seeds are produced in small cones and do not have wings. Fruit usually matures during fall and is quite persistent.

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Twig: The twigs are reddish-brown and have a 3-angled-pith; young twigs are covered with hairs.

Bark: The bark is brownish gray, smooth, and has a bitter and astringent taste.

Cultivation:
Alnus serrulata can be found in a habitats such as stream streambanks, riversides, and swamps. Water use is high and it requires sun or part-sun. It also requires moist soil that has a PH of 6.8-7.2. Alnus serrulata needs 5-10 foot spacing in wildlife habitat.

Medicinal Uses:  Alterative, tonic, astringent, emetic. A decoction or extract is useful in scrofula, secondary syphilis and several forms of cutaneous disease. The inner bark of the root is emetic, and a decoction of the cones is said to be astringent, and useful in haematuria and other haemorrhages.

When diarrhoea, indigestion and dyspepsia are caused by debility of the stomach, it will be found helpful, and also in intermittent fevers.

It is said that an excellent ophthalmic powder can be made as follows: bore a hole from 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter, lengthwise, through a stout piece of limb of Tag Alder. Fill the opening with finely-powdered salt, and close it at each end. Put into hot ashes, and allow it to remain until the Tag is almost charred (three to four days), then split it open, take out the salt, powder, and keep it in a vial. To use it, blow some of the powder upon the eye, through a quill.

It is also used to treat astringent, diuretic, emetic, ophthalmic, and purgative symptoms. A tea made from the bark is said to work as a treatment for diarrhea, coughs, toothaches, sore mouth, and the pain of birth.

Other Uses:
Because the plant resides in riversides or stream streambanks, it usually functions as a stabilizer and restorer for those habitats.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/alder021.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_serrulata

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