European Alder (Glutinosa)

The European Alder (Glutinosa) is generally described as a perennial tree. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The European Alder (Glutinosa) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical European Alder (Glutinosa) will reach up to 45 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 40 feet.

The European Alder (Glutinosa) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, cuttings, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -28°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

European black alder is a rapidly growing tree that is useful for planting on drastically disturbed and acid sites such as coal strip-mines. It is capable of nitrogen fixation though it is not a legume, so it is a soil improving species. Black alder is also an excellent choice for internal orchard windbreaks. It can be sheared to very narrow widths of 3-4 feet thick, and produces sufficient density to be effective. Black alder has been reported as invasive on some soil types. It should not be planted widely as a landscape or specimen tree.

General Characteristics

This species was introduced from Europe and should not be confused with native alders. The leaf, flower, and fruit are similar to the native shrub alders found along the streams of the Northeast. Black alder is a tree that can grow 60-70 feet tall. The leaf is smooth, 3-5 inches long, with a serrated margin. Small, winged seed is produced in little woody cone-like fruits. The bark is dark brown, with prominent warty strips.

Required Growing Conditions

Black alder will grow on a wide variety of soils, from well drained to somewhat poorly drained with light to moderate textures. It does not do well on droughty or wet sites. The species is hardy to the south shore of Lake Ontario, and to northeast Kansas but may not be reliable in USDA zone 4 or colder.

Cultivation and Care

Planting 1-0 nursery bare-root stock is preferred. Olderplants are usually too large for easy planting. Take care to properly place the root system in the planting hole or trench. Black alder will respond to phosphorus fertilizer, particularly when planted in acid soils. Plant dormant stock early in the spring as possible. Containerized plants can be planted in early summer as well. There are 321,000 seeds per pound.Black alder should be planted in mixtures with other species for critical area treatment. Spacings of 6x6 to 10x10 work well. Under-seeding with a cool season grass mixture is recommended.

General Upkeep and Control

All trees and shrubs respond very strongly to effective control of weeds and sod. Mechanical or chemical controls are acceptable as long as they are used according to the label. Failure to control sod will result in growth reduced by 50% or more.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) None have been released in the US. A few nurseries produce this tree to meet the needs of orchard and mine revegetation interests.

Control Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Tree
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Introduced to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Mid Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Multiple Stem
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 45
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Purple
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Low
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Cuttings, Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -28
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.3–8 pH
Precipitation Range 28–28 inches/yr
Planting Density 145–1200 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Minimum Frost-Free Days 130 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA