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.
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.
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 USES BY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Red alder wood is used to make eating implements, for smoking meats, and building fires. The outer bark provides orange-red dye and the inner bark is edible.
Red alder is a very fine grained wood and is used for making furniture, flooring and other construction. It is the most commercially important hardwood in B.C.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: Nancy Turner