Alnus serrulata (Ait.) Willd.

Tag Alder

Alnus serrulata plant

Family - Betulaceae

Habit - Shrubs or small trees to 3 m tall, monoecious.

Stems - Bark light gray, smooth. Buds on twigs to 5 mm long (excluding stalk), with 2 or 3 scales.

Alnus serrulata bark

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Petioles to 18 mm long. Leaf blades elliptical to rhombic, 5-13 cm long, 3.0-7.5 cm wide, the base rounded to narrowed, the tip broadly or bluntly pointed to rounded, the margins finely toothed, the teeth 0.2- 0.5 mm long, each side of the midrib with 7-11 strong secondary veins.

Alnus serrulata leaves

Inflorescence - No info. yet.

Flowers - Staminate flowers in catkins, with corollas absent. Stamens 4. Pistillate flowers with calyces rudimentary or absent; corollas absent; ovary inferior, with 2 locules toward the base but often appearing 1-locular toward the tip, the placentation axile. Styles 2, each with a linear stigmatic region toward the tip.

Alnus serrulata flowersPistillate flowers.

Alnus serrulata flowersStaminate flowers.

Fruits - Conelike infructescences 1-2 cm long, the fruits 2.5-4.5 mm long (including the styles), narrowly winged.

Alnus serrulata conesCones of previous season.

Flowering - March - April.

Habitat - Along streams and streambanks, spring branches, wet meadows, pond margins, often partially submerged.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is the only native species of alder in the state of Missouri. The plant can be found mostly in the southern half of the state but also along the Mississippi River. Beyond Missouri, its range extends southward, eastward, and up into New England. A. serrulata is a shrubby tree which grows to a few meters tall and has multiple stems from its base. It is a very early-flowering species, with the flowers appearing well before the new leaves. The leaves of the plant stay green well into the winter before becoming brown and falling. Natives used a tea made from the bark to treat diarrhea, coughs, toothaches, sore mouth, and to lessen the pain of child birth. The tea was also used as a wash for poison ivy. Settlers used the tea to try and treat malaria and syphilis.

Photographs taken off Lee Rd 54, Auburn, Alabama., 1-23-06.


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