growing and care

growing and care

Alder can be one of our robust environmental savers due to how the trees can restore soils and interlock roots to prevent soil erosion.

preferred soil conditions?

Alder trees love water so it can tolerate soils that hold lots of water, and boggy soils, Alder does not like the soil to be acidic peaty bog.

Alders trees are exceptional for reclaiming polluted land, as long as it is not over acidic. It is a perfect tree for planting over an open cast mine area when the miners pull out, for example.

preferred light, shade and water conditions?

Alder trees seem to grow in any light. Their preference of being close to lots of water causes Alder to be an ideal tree for helping boggy land become less boggy. It is essential to keep alders far away from water supply pipes and drains, though, as their roots will reach out to them and quickly destroy them.


Purple pointed buds that are already present when leaves fall at the end of October or early November. These buds open into leaves on the Alder trees from mid April into early May.


Deep purple catkins form early, during late summer, mid to late August, and stay on the trees through winter. During the following spring the Alder catkins expand and lighten into a pinky golden colour as their flowers emerge. Some folks pick and cook up these catkins from January to April if they are short of other food.

fruit and seeds

Alder is the only broadleaved hard wood tree that grows cones as fruit. These cones grow on the trees alongside the catkins through winter and are a favourite winter food of green finches.


Coppicing of Alder is becoming popular again due to a growing popularity of wood chip fuel.

A wood chip fuel boiler or furnace requires well dried and chipped wood fuel and Alder is one of the favourite tree resources for this. This may be a surprise because as a log burning fuel, Alder is not a good choice. I explain more about this alternative Alder fuel in Alder's "fuel in the hearth" chapter here.

Alder can produce a coppiced crop every 3 to 5 years with 4 years being the most common.

ecosystem effects 

Alder trees are perhaps the best nitrogen fixing plants available. Their conversion of nitrogen into ammonia within the soil has a terrific effect on turning soil waste into highly nutritious soil that can feed many other plants that grow close by Alder trees.

Alder trees are a huge benefit when they are grown near Pines, Spruce and Fir trees that tend to leach nitrogen into the soil that becomes nitrous oxide in water. This obviously lowers the quality of water and adds to the contributions that are currently forming greenhouse gas problems.

Chemical reactions from alder's roots can also convert the nitrogen leached from pine, spruce and fir trees to into improved soil structure. The presence of Alder trees provides greatly improved water quality and several good environment benefits.

to read about the healing and nourishment qualities of Alder, please click here