Black Alder Alnus glutinosa
Family: Betulaceae (Birch)
Branching: Alternate
Other names: European Black Alder

This Alder is, as its name suggests, a European import.  It is sometimes used in landscaping and occasionally escapes.  In the winter it can look similar to Speckled Alder, but unlike Speckled, it usually grows to tree size.  This alone will eliminate confusion on mature trees.  On small specimens, where twigs are available, the stalked buds of Black Alder are different than Speckled Alder.  Mature trees, with no low branches or twigs, can easily be mistaken for Black Birch, as the bark of that tree does not peel readily like other birches and they both have similar horizontal markings on the bark.   Seed "cones" would normally be seen on an Alder.  Also, Black Birch twigs have a wintergreen smell when crushed.  Note: Winterry is often called Black Alder

Winter twig of Black Alder

The stalked lateral bud of Black Alder

Black Alder's pendulous catkins and "seed cones"

Closer look at the catkins

Last year's "seed cones"

Another view of the winter twig

Bark of Black Alder

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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