Hazel Alder
(Tag Alder - Brookside Alder - Common Alder)
Alnus serrulata - (Aiton) Willdenow
Betulaceae (Birch) Family


Autumn fruit of Hazel Alder

 

Plant is a large shrub with several spreading trunks, or sometimes a small tree.  Preferred habitat is wet soils at the edge of lakes, ponds and streams. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.

The leaf is gummy and aromatic when crushed; two to five inches long and one to three inches wide. The shape is oval, broadest at the middle; finely saw-toothed and sometimes slightly wavy. The color is dull green above and paler beneath, often with hairs on the veins.  Side veins are numerous and straight.

Flowers are yellowish and tiny, appearing in early spring. The male flowers are drooping catkins and the female flowers are in clusters of small cones that are usually less than 1/4 inch long.

Fruit is a dark brown egg-shaped nutlets that are held within the cone; hard, maturing in autumn, the cones remaining attached until the following spring when new flowers emerge.

This is the only native alder in the southeastern United States, where it is common and widespread, often forming thickets.  Aside from providing cover for wildlife, browse for deer and seeds for birds, the shrub has no other commercial value.

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