Herb: White Alder


Latin name: Alnus rhombifolia


Family: Betulaceae (Birch Family)



Medicinal use of White Alder:

The bark is astringent, diaphoretic, emetic, haemostatic, stomachic and tonic. A decoction of the dried bark is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, haemorrhages in consumption, stomach aches and to facilitate child birth. Externally it can be used as a wash for babies with skin diseases, nappy rash etc. A poultice of the wood is applied to burns.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
12 m
(39 feet)

Flovering:
March

Habitat of the herb:

Usually found in rocky or gravelly soils along the sides of streams, in canyon bottomlands and gulches, from near sea level to 2400 metres.

Edible parts of White Alder:

Catkins - raw or cooked. A bitter flavour. Inner bark. No more information is given, but inner bark is often dried and can be used as a flavouring in soups or can be mixed with cereal flours when making bread etc.

Other uses of the herb:

The bark and the strobils are a source of tannin. The roots have been used to make baskets. The inner bark can be dried, ground into a powder then mixed with flour and water for use as a dye. The colour is not specified. The fresh bark can be chewed and used as a red dye. Wood - light, soft, not strong, brittle, close and straight-grained, very durable in water. It is of limited value as a low-grade lumber, but is used principally for fuel.

Propagation of White Alder:

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe and only just covered. Spring sown seed should also germinate successfully so long as it is not covered. The seed should germinate in the spring as the weather warms up. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. If growth is sufficient, it is possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in pots outdoors and plant them out in the spring. If you have sufficient quantity of seed, it can be sown thinly in an outdoor seed bed in the spring. The seedlings can either be planted out into their permanent positions in the autumn/winter, or they can be allowed to grow on in the seed bed for a further season before planting them. Cuttings of mature wood, taken as soon as the leaves fall in autumn, outdoors in sandy soil.

Cultivation of the herb:

Usually found in rocky or gravelly soils along the sides of streams, in canyon bottomlands and gulches, from near sea level to 2400 metres.

Known hazards of Alnus rhombifolia:

The freshly harvested inner bark is emetic but is alright once it has been dried.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.