Native Plant of the Month: Red Alder

posted in: Native plants | 0
Red alder, Alnus rubra
Many of us enjoy the musical sounds of nature.  To builders of electric guitars and electric bass guitars Red Alder is treasured for its tonality.  A perfect pairing of nature and man.
Red Alder is a deciduous, broadleaf tree native to the Pacific Northwest.  It grows quickly to maturity at 20-30 meters high.  The leaves are short oval with pointed ends and serrated edges.
The bark of the red alder is mottled ashy gray, smooth and often colonized by white lichen and moss.  The outer bark scales to reveal a reddish-brown under-bark which has been used by Native Americans to dye fishing nets. In recent years, the wood from red alder trees has grown rapidly in demand for use as pulpwood, furniture, cabinets and tool handles. Increased demand has greatly elevated the going rate for this timber.
The red alder is also often used to help with restoration in landslide prone areas after fire or logging.  Its rapidly growing thickets serve as cover for seedlings of the next coniferous forests.  Root nodules that contain nitrogen fixing bacteria which convert nitrogen from the air into chemicals like fertilizers for plant use.
Red alders that are thinned during SHADOW’s Alder Grove Restoration Project will be left on the ground to provide soil nutrients to the next wave of forest.