Care Of Speckled Alder Trees: Learn How To Grow A Speckled Alder Tree

Speckled Alder Tree Branch
speckled alder
(Image credit: FreeUsePhotos)

Is it a tree or is it a shrub? Speckled alder trees (Alnus rugosa syn. Alnus incana) are just the right height to pass as either. They are native to the northeast regions of this country and Canada. Read on for more speckled alder information, including tips on how to grow a speckled alder and its care.

Speckled Alder Information

Speckled alder trees growing in the wild look a lot like shrubs. According to speckled alder information, these trees do not get above 25 feet (7.5 m.) tall, and can be much shorter. In addition, speckled alder trees usually grow with multiple slender stems like bushes. The common name comes from the fact that the stems, heavily lined with horizontally borne lenticels, appear speckled. Both male and female alder flowers are called catkins. The males are long and conspicuous, while female flowers are reddish and smaller, and lack outer scales.

How to Grow a Speckled Alder

If you are thinking of growing speckled alders, you need to remember the very specific growth conditions these native trees require. These alder trees grow in wetlands. In fact, it has given its name to a type of wetland known as an "alder thicket." You’ll also see speckled alder growing along streams, in roadside ditches and in swamps. For example, speckled alder trees can colonize cut-over northern conifer swamps. To start growing speckled alders in the landscape, you’ll need wet soil. You’ll also need to live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, where the alders thrive. Plant the seeds or seedlings in full sun in wet soil. If you want to start growing speckled alders from seeds, it’s easy to collect them from the tree in autumn. Each fruit is a samara with narrow wings and produced one single seed.

Care of Speckled Alder

You won’t have to invest much time or effort in care of speckled alder. These are native trees and can take care of themselves if you site them well. Be sure the ground is wet and that the trees get some sun. If that’s the case, care of speckled alder should be easy. If you want to grow the alder to look more like a tree than a shrub, you can prune out the stems, leaving only the strongest to serve as the trunk.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.