HOME return to plant lists: habitats all plants riparian woodland sun subalpine butterflies birds
Red Alder · Alnus rubra
This deciduous, broadleaved tree (30-120 ft. tall) has large, egg-shaped leaves and nitrogen-fixing bacteria in its roots. Red alder grows fast and re-seeds aggressively; it is found everywhere in our lowland forests. It usually grows at low elevations, along streams and at the coast. Red alder's nitrogen-fixing gifts help to reclaim bare ground and restore vital biological processes to abused ecosystems. Kruckeberg notes: "Moreover, for any private or community beautification project involving what was once a woodland habitat, alder and conifers mix well in pattern as well as function, even though the association may not last." (Kruckeberg, Gardening With Native Plants of the Pacific Northwerst, 1996, University of Washington Press, p.73.) Sun/part sun, regular water.
William Clark described Meriweather Lewis marking his passage on an alder in 1805, when the Lewis and Clark expedition, or "Corps of Discovery", finally reached the Pacific Ocean: "Capt. Lewis Branded a tree with his name, Date etc. . . . The party all Cut the first letters of their names on different trees. . . . I marked my name, the Day & year on an alder tree. . . . William Clark. By Land from the U. States in 1804 & 1805."