Common Shrub Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Alnus rugosa
Speckled Alder
Betulaceae (Birch Family)


General - - shrub or small tree up to 4 metres (13 feet) high; branchiets light reddish-brown, hairy, not sticky; older twigs dark brown to purplish-black, hairless, dotted with conspicuous light warty dots, pith 3-sided; often growing in clumps or thickets, hummock-forming.

Speckled Alder Leaves - Leaves - alternate; egg-shaped or broadly oval, rounded to slightly heart-shaped at the base, pointed at the tip; margins coarsely and unevenly double-toothed; with prominent, ladder-like veins; more or less hairy along the veins underneath.

Flowers - borne on catkins. Male catkins are slender, scaly, suspended on long stalks, elongating in the spring to 5-8 cm, opening in April or May; female catkins are smaller, erect and cone-like, clustered at the branch ends.

Fruit - winged seeds borne in small 1 cm long, dark, roundish, woody cones (female catkins). Cones endure for a year or more after releasing the seeds.


Throughout boreal and mixedwoods of North America. Frequent; on moist/wet, poorly-drained sites, especially in wet black spruce forests on organic soils. Also along the margins of streams, rivers and lakes as well as in swamplands.


May be confused with Green Alder and Beaked Hazel. The stalkless cones are the best distinguishing feature of the Speckled Alder. This species heavily speckled twigs separate this species from the Green Alder and Beaked Hazel.

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