Herbs & Plants

Alnus rhombifolia

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

Common Names: White Alder

Habitat : Alnus rhombifolia is native to Western N. AmericaBritish Columbia to California. It is usually found in rocky or gravelly soils along the sides of streams, in canyon bottomlands and gulches, from near sea level to 2400 metres.

Alnus rhombifolia is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15–25 metres (49–82 ft) (rarely to 35 metres (115 ft)) tall, with pale gray bark, smooth on young trees, becoming scaly on old trees. The leaves are alternate, rhombic to narrow elliptic, 4–10 centimetres (1.6–3.9 in) long and 2–5 centimetres (0.79–1.97 in) cm broad, with a finely serrated margin and a rounded to acute apex; they are thinly hairy below.

The flowers are produced in catkins. The male catkins are pendulous, slender,3–10 centimetres (1.2–3.9 in) long, yellowish, and produced in clusters of two to seven; pollination is in early spring, before the leaves emerge. The female catkins are ovoid, when mature in autumn 10–22 millimetres (0.39–0.87 in) long and 7–10 millimetres (0.28–0.39 in) broad, on a 1–10 millimetres (0.039–0.394 in) stem, superficially resembling a small conifer cone. The small winged seeds disperse through the winter, leaving the old woody, blackish ‘cones’ on the tree for up to a year after…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The white alder is closely related to the red alder (Alnus rubra), differing in the leaf margins being flat, not curled under. Like other alders, it is able to fix nitrogen, and tolerates infertile soils.
Prefers a heavy soil and a damp situation. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates very infertile sites. A fairly fast-growing but short-lived species, reaching its maximum size in 50 – 60 years. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Special Features:North American native, Wetlands plant, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe and only just covered. Spring sown seed should also germinate successfully so long as it is not covered. The seed should germinate in the spring as the weather warms up. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. If growth is sufficient, it is possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in pots outdoors and plant them out in the spring. If you have sufficient quantity of seed, it can be sown thinly in an outdoor seed bed in the spring. The seedlings can either be planted out into their permanent positions in the autumn/winter, or they can be allowed to grow on in the seed bed for a further season before planting them. Cuttings of mature wood, taken as soon as the leaves fall in autumn, outdoors in sandy soil.

Edible Uses:
Catkins – raw or cooked. A bitter flavour. Inner bark. No more information is given, but inner bark is often dried and can be used as a flavouring in soups or can be mixed with cereal flours when making bread etc.
Medicinal Uses:
The bark is astringent, diaphoretic, emetic, haemostatic, stomachic and tonic. A decoction of the dried bark is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, haemorrhages in consumption, stomach aches and to facilitate child birth. Externally it can be used as a wash for babies with skin diseases, nappy rash etc. A poultice of the wood is applied to burns. Some Plateau Indian tribes used white alder for female health treatment needs.

Other Uses:
Baby care; Basketry; Dye; Fuel; Tannin; Wood.

The bark and the strobils are a source of tannin. The roots have been used to make baskets. The inner bark can be dried, ground into a powder then mixed with flour and water for use as a dye. The colour is not specified. The fresh bark can be chewed and used as a red dye. Wood – light, soft, not strong, brittle, close and straight-grained, very durable in water. It is of limited value as a low-grade lumber, but is used principally for fuel.

Landscape Uses:Massing, Woodland garden.

Known Hazards: The freshly harvested inner bark is emetic but is alright once it has been dried.
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.


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