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Alder: USING THIS PLANT




  • Primary Uses:
    • Ornamental tree or large shrub
    • Nitrogen Fixer – puts nitrogen back into the soil which may be used as a fertilizer to other plants (actinorhizal)
    • Windbreak or hedge (some species are great in maritime climates: Black, Italian, Gray, Seaside Alders)
    • Wood – Firewood, Timber, Furniture, Paper, Mushroom Production
     
    Secondary Uses:
    • General insect (especially bees) nectar and pollen plant
    • Coppice plant (harvest every 12-25 yrs for kindling, firewood, tool handles, crafts, poles, fence posts, charcoal, and in any situation where the wood needs to be repeatedly exposed to water)
    • Plants with a shrub form can provide shelter for wildlife
    • Living Trellis – the lower branches can be pruned to allow fruiting vine species a place to grow. The fruiting plant typically then gets a natural boost of nitrogen from the Alder trellis.
    • Erosion Control – can be used to protect soil from erosion on steep banks
    • Fantastic pioneer species – a plant used to re-establish woodlands on former farmlands or eroded/difficult sites (fixes nitrogen, grows fast, produces lots of leaf litter for soil building, and dies back as other trees shade it out)
    • Biomass Production – since Alnus grows so fast
    • Dye from bark, shoots, catkins (mainly from Black Alder)
    • Tanning – leaves contain high amounts of tannin
    • Edible Catkins – raw or cooked, used as an emergency food source (Red Alder)
    • Edible Sap – can be used straight or concentrated to a syrup (Red Alder)
    • Traditional medicinal uses (primarily bark)
     
    When young most Alders have horizontal patterns to the bark.
     
    But as it ages, it gets more thick and fissured.

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