Herb: Smooth Alder

Latin name: Alnus serrulata

Synonyms: Betula serrulata

Family: Betulaceae (Birch Family)

Medicinal use of Smooth Alder:

A tea made from the bark is analgesic, astringent, blood purifier, diuretic, emetic and purgative. It is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, the pain of childbirth, coughs, toothache and sore mouths. Externally, it is used as an eye wash and a wash for hives, poison ivy rash, piles, swellings and sprains. A decoction of the cones is astringent.

Description of the plant:


4.5 m
(15 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Moist lowlands, such as swamps, and along ponds and streams where it forms thickets.

Other uses of Smooth Alder:

Trees have extensive root systems and are sometimes planted on the banks of streams in order to prevent erosion. The wood is soft and brittle, weighing 29lb per cubic foot. It is of little commercial value.

Propagation of the herb:

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 Smooth Alder:

Moist lowlands, such as swamps, and along ponds and streams where it forms thickets.

Known hazards of Alnus serrulata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.