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Herbs & Plants

Betula pubescens

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Botanical Name: Betula pubescens
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betula
Species: B. pubescens
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms: Betula alba var. pubescens, Betula alba subsp. pubescens

Common Names: Downy birch, Moor birch, White birch, European white birch or Hairy birch

Habitat:Betula pubescens is native to Most of Europe, including Britain, east to W. Siberia and central Asia. It grows on open woodland and heaths, usually on acid soils, from sea level to 830 metres.

Description:
Betula pubescens is a deciduous tree growing to 10 to 20 m (33 to 66 ft) tall (rarely to 27 m), with a slender crown and a trunk up to 70 cm (28 in) (exceptionally 1 m) diameter, with smooth but dull grey-white bark finely marked with dark horizontal lenticels. The shoots are grey-brown and finely downy. The leaves are ovate-acute, 2 to 5 cm (0.8 to 2.0 in) long and 1.5 to 4.5 cm (0.6 to 1.8 in) broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins, produced in early spring before the leaves. The fruit is a pendulous, cylindrical aggregate 1 to 4 cm (0.4 to 1.6 in) long and 5 to 7 mm (0.2 to 0.3 in) wide which disintegrates at maturity, releasing the individual seeds; these are 2 mm (0.08 in) long with two small wings along the side……CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in a well-drained light loamy soil in a sunny position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates a wet position, succeeding in poorly drained soils. Fairly wind tolerant. Prefers an acid soil. A very ornamental tree and fast growing, capable of growing 1 metre a year but it is short-lived. It is one of the first trees to colonize open land and it creates a suitable environment for other woodland trees to follow. These trees eventually shade out the birch trees. Trees take about 15 years from seed to produce their own seed. Although closely related, it does not usually hybridize with B. pendula. It hybridizes freely with B. pendula according to another report. A superb tree for encouraging wildlife, it has over 200 associated insect species. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process. It is also a good companion plant, its root activity working to improve the soil. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.
Edible Uses:
Inner bark – cooked or dried, ground into a powder then used with cereals for making bread etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply. Sap – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. The flow is best on sunny days following a heavy frost. The sap is often concentrated into a sugar by boiling off the water. Between 4 and 7 litres can be drawn off a mature tree in a day and this will not kill the tree so long as the tap hole is filled up afterwards. However, prolonged or heavy tapping will kill the tree. A beer can be fermented from the sap. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”. Young leaves – raw or cooked. Young catkins. A tea is made from the leaves and another tea is made from the essential oil in the inner bark.
Medicinal Uses:

Anti-inflammatory, cholagogue, diaphoretic. The bark is diuretic and laxative. The inner bark is bitter and astringent, it is used in treating intermittent fevers. An oil obtained from the inner bark is astringent and is used in the treatment of various skin afflictions, especially eczema and psoriasis. The bark is usually obtained from trees that have been felled for timber and can be distilled at any time of the year. The buds are balsamic. The young shoots and leaves secrete a resinous substance which has acid properties, when combined with alkalis it is a tonic laxative. The leaves are anticholesterolemic and diuretic. They also contain phytosides, which are effective germicides. An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of gout, dropsy and rheumatism, and is recommended as a reliable solvent of kidney stones. The young leaves and leaf buds are harvested in the spring and dried for later use. A decoction of the leaves and bark is used for bathing skin eruptions. The vernal sap is diuretic. The boiled and powdered wood has been applied to chafed skin. Moxa is made from the yellow fungous excrescences of the wood, which sometimes swell out of the fissures. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Betula species for infections of the urinary tract, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism.

Other Uses:
Adhesive; Besom; Charcoal; Compost; Dye; Essential; Fibre; Fungicide; Miscellany; Paper; Pioneer; Polish; Repellent; Tannin; Thatching; Waterproofing; Wood.

The bark is used to make drinking vessels, canoe skins, roofing tiles etc. It is waterproof, durable, tough and resinous. Only the outer bark is removed, this does not kill the tree. It is most easily removed in late spring to early summer. The bark was pressed flat and stored until the following spring. When required for making canoes it would be heated over a fire to make it pliable for shaping to the canoe frame. A pioneer species, it readily invades old fields, cleared or burnt-over land and creates conditions suitable for other woodland trees to become established. Since it is relatively short-lived and intolerant of shade, it is eventually out-competed by these trees. A tar-oil is obtained from the white bark in spring. It has fungicidal properties and is also used as an insect repellent. It makes a good shoe polish. Another report says that an essential oil is obtained from the bark and this, called ‘Russian Leather’ has been used as a perfume. A glue is made from the sap. Cordage can be made from the fibres of the inner bark. This inner bark can also be separated into thin layers and used as a substitute for oiled paper. A decoction of the inner bark is used to preserve cordage, it is rich in tannin. The bark contains up to 16% tannin. A brown dye is obtained from the inner bark. An oil similar to Wintergreen oil (obtained from Gaultheria procumbens) is obtained from the inner bark. It is used medicinally and also makes a refreshing tea. The young branches are very flexible and are used to make whisks, besoms etc. They are also used in thatching and to make wattles. The leaves are a good addition to the compost heap, improving fermentation. A black paint is obtained from the soot of the plant[61]. A high quality charcoal is obtained from the bark. It is used by artists, painters etc. Wood – soft, light, durable. It is used for a wide range of purposes including furniture, tool handles, carving, toys etc. It is a source of charcoal that is used by artists and is also pulped and used for making paper.

Known Hazards: The aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in birch tar are irritating to the skin. Do not use in patients with oedema or with poor kidney or heart functions.

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.

Resourcs:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_pubescens
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Betula+pubescens

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Alnus nitida

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Botanical Name: Alnus nitida
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Alnus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms : Clethropsis nitida.

Habitat :Alnus nitida is native to E. Asia – Himalayas. It grows by rivers and streams, 600 – 1200 metres, occasionally to 2700 metres.

Description:
Alnus nitida is a deciduous Tree growing 20 m or more tall. Young shoots pubescent, becoming glabrescent when old. Leaves ovate to elliptic-ovate, 5-15 cm x 3-9 cm, acute or acuminate, remotely serrate to sub-serrate, pubescent to pilose, often villous at the angles of the veins on the under surface, base cuneate to rounded; petiole 1-4 cm long, glabrous to pubescent. Male flowers in catkins, up to 19 cm long; peduncle 5-6.5 mm long; bract c. 1.2 mm long, more or less ovate, bracteoles smaller, suborbiculate. Tepals oblong-obovate to spathulate, c. l mm long, apex and margin minutely toothed. Anthers c. 1 mm long, filament slightly shorter than the tepals, scarcely forked. Female flowers in erect ‘woody cones’, 3-3.5 cm x c. 1.2 cm; bract broadly ovate, bracteoles suborbiculate. Styles 2, linear. Fruiting scale 5-lobed, 5-6 mm long, apex obliquely truncate. Nut 2.5-4 mm long, fringed by the narrow and more or less leathery wings.

CLICK &  SEE THE PICTURES

It is in flower in September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It can fix Nitrogen.

Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a heavy soil and a damp situation. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates drier soils than most members of this genus. Succeeds in very infertile sites. Trees probably tolerate temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c and so will not succeed outdoors in the colder areas of the country. A very ornamental tree. 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.

Propagation:
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.

Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the bark is applied externally to treat swellings and body pains.

Other Uses: Tannin is obtained from the bark, it is used in dyeing. Wood – soft, even grained, hard to cut. Used for construction and furniture

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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alder
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=242420274
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alnus+nitida

 

Categories
Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Betula glandulosa

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Botanical Name : Betula glandulosa
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Chamaebetula
Species: B. glandulosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms:Betula crenata, Betula glandulifera.

Common Names: American Dwarf Birch, Resin Birch, Shrub Birch,Scrub Birch

Habitat :Betula glandulosa is native to North-western N. America – Newfoundland to Alaska, southwards on mountain ranges. It grows on streambanks, marsh margins, lakes and bogs, also found on alpine slopes.

Description:
Betula glandulosa is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub typically growing to 1–3 m tall, often forming dense thickets. The trunks are slender, rarely over 5–10 cm diameter, with smooth, dark brown bark. The leaves are nearly circular to oval, 0.5–3 cm long and 1.2.5 cm broad, with a toothed margin. The fruiting catkins are erect, 1-2.5 cm long and 5–12 mm broad…CLICK  & SEE THE PICTURES

It is not frost tender. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.

It is closely related to the Dwarf Birch (Betula nana), and is sometimes treated as a subspecies of it, as B. nana subsp. glandulosa. It is distinguished from typical B. nana by the presence of glandular warts on the shoots and longer leaf petioles. Hybrids with several other birches occur.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Shade tolerant. B. glandulifera, mentioned above as a synonym of this species, might be a separate species in its own right. This species is native to areas with very cold winters and often does not do well in milder zones. It can be excited into premature growth in mild winters and this new growth is susceptible to frost damage. The branches are covered in aromatic glands, and the leaves are pleasantly fragrant when crushed. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. This species is closely related to B. nana. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.
Edible Uses:Young leaves and catkins – raw. The buds and twigs are used as a flavouring in stews.
Edible Uses: Young leaves and catkins are eaten raw. The buds and twigs are used as a flavouring in stews.

Medicinal Uses: The bark is antirheumatic, astringent, lithontripic, salve and sedative.

Other Uses: The plant is valuable for ground cover. An infusion of the plant is used as a hair conditioner and dandruff treatment

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.
Resurces:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_glandulosa
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Betula+glandulosa

Categories
Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Alnus rugosa

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

Synonyms: A. incana rugosa. (Duroi.)Clausen

Common Names: Speckled Alder, Alnus incana, Grey alder

Habitat : Alnus rugosa is native to Northern and Eastern N. AmericaHudson’s Bay to Virginia. Naturalized in C. Europe It grows on wet sandy or gravelly soils, usually along streams and rivers, but also in ponds and swamps. It is only found in open sunny areas, being unable to compete in dense shade.
Description:
Alnus rugosa is a deciduous small to medium size tree 15–20 m (49–66 ft) tall with smooth grey bark even in old age, its life span being a maximum of 60 to 100 years. The leaves are matte green, ovoid, 5–11 cm (2.0–4.3 in) long and 4–8 cm (1.6–3.1 in) broad. The flowers are catkins, appearing early in spring before the leaves emerge, the male catkins pendulous and 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long, the female catkins 1.5 cm (0.6 in) long and one cm broad when mature in late autumn. The seeds are small, 1–2 mm (0.04–0.08 in) long, and light brown with a narrow encircling wing. The grey alder has a shallow root system, and is marked not only by vigorous production of stump suckers, but also by root suckers, especially in the northern parts of its range. The wood resembles that of the black alder, but is somewhat paler and of little economic value.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It can fix Nitrogen.

Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a heavy soil and a damp situation. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates very infertile sites. A fast-growing but short-lived tree. Closely related to A. incana and considered to be no more than a sub-species (A. incana rugosa) by some botanists. 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.

Propagation:
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.

Medicinal Uses:
The speckled alder was quite widely used medicinally by the native North American Indians who used it to treat a variety of complaints. It is little used in modern herbalism. The bark is alterative, astringent, emetic, laxative, ophthalmic, stomachic and tonic. The bark contains salicin, which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge. The root bark was mixed with molasses and used in the treatment of toothache. A decoction of the inner bark was used as a wash for sore eyes. The outer bark is astringent and is applied as a poultice to bleeding wounds, it also reduces swellings.

Other Uses:
Dye; Pioneer; Soil stabilization; Wood.
This is an excellent pioneer species for re-establishing woodlands on disused farmland, difficult sites etc. Its fast rate of growth means that it quickly provides sheltered conditions to allow more permanent woodland trees to become established. In addition, bacteria on the roots fix atmospheric nitrogen – whilst this enables the tree to grow well in quite poor soils it also makes some of this nitrogen available to other plants growing nearby. Alder trees also have a heavy leaf canopy and when the leaves fall in the autumn they help to build up the humus content of the soil. Alder seedlings do not compete well in shady woodland conditions and so this species gradually dies out as the other trees become established. The tree has an extensive root system and can be planted to control banks from erosion. A dark dye is obtained from the bark. Browns, through red to orange colours can be obtained from the bark. The wood is soft, weighing 29lb per cubic foot. The tree is too small to be of importance for lumber or fuel.
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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_incana
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alnus+rugosa

Categories
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.

Description:
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.
Cultivation:
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.

Propagation:
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.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_rhombifolia
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alnus+rhombifolia