Red Alder

Alnus rubra

Photo: Nancy Turner

Red Alder

APPEARANCE

The red alder grows to 24 metres tall and is often found in recently disturbed areas, especially along marshes, floodplains and stream banks. The flowers can be male or female and are called “catkins”. The leaves are bright green, oval and toothed along the edge. The bark of the tree grows rough with age, and turns orange-red if opened to the air.

RANGE & HABITAT

The red alder is found along the entire coast of B.C., and much of the interior. In B.C., this plant grows in the Coast and Mountains and Georgia Depression ecoprovinces.

LIFE CYCLE

The red alder is a fast growing tree but only lives 40 to 60 years. The male and female flowers appear before the leaves and produce male and female hanging catkins. The small brownish cones of the red alder are the fruit of the tree that remain over the winter months.

ANIMAL USES

Red alder leaves are eaten by some animals although it is not an important part of the diet of any particular animals. The larger mature trees have a broader canopy that provides warmth for some larger animals.

TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES

Red alder wood was used to make eating implements, for smoking meats, and building fires. The outer bark provided orange-red dye and the inner bark was sometimes eaten.

MODERN USES

Red alder is a very fine grained wood and today is used for making furniture, flooring and other construction. It is the most commercially important hardwood in B.C.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

www.bcadventure.com

Photo: Nancy Turner