Content Detail

European white alder is a fast-growing tree that may be considered as a street tree. Early spring flowers are interesting, but not really showy. This tree may be difficult to find in local nurseries.

  • Family (English) Birch
  • Family (botanic) Betulaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 40-60 feet
  • Mature width 20-40 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago)
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional flooding, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Oval, Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Fast, Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Wildlife Large mammals, Small mammals, Songbirds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

European white alder is native to Europe and commonly found in moist sites.

Bark color and texture:

Light gray bark is smooth and marked with elongated lenticels.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

The oval leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and alternately arranged. The edges of the leaves are doubly-toothed. The upper leaf surface is dull green and the lower surface is grayish. Leaves have little color change in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Male flowers hang in dangling catkins, are yellow-red, and bloom in early spring before leaves appear.  Female flowers are small, pink, and egg-shaped.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit are cone-like structures.

Plant care:

This species is best grown  in moist soils and is able to tolerate short-term flooding.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Potential problems include canker diseases, alder aphids, and leaf miners.


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