Shrub Species of the World's Boreal Forests

World Boreal Trees

Terminology | Pictorial

Alnus incana
Mountain Alder
Betulaceae (Birch Family)

A shrub or small tree with spreading, slender branches with several trunks and a rounded crown; growing to a height of 9 m and a diameter of 15 cm, often grows in thickets.

Mountain Alder Description

Distinguishing Features - Leaves: in three rows; 4 - 10 cm long; ovate or elliptical, wavy-lobed and doubly saw-toothed, rounded at base, with 6 - 9 nearly straight parallel veins on each side; colouration: dull dark green above, light yellow-green and finely hairy underneath. Bark: grayish, smooth, becoming reddish-gray and scaly. Twigs: slender, reddish and hairy when young, becoming gray, with three-angled pith. Flowers: tiny, appearing in early spring before leaves, borne on catkins - male yellowish 2.5 - 7 cm long; female brownish, in slender cones 6 mm long. Cones: 10 - 15 mm long; 3 to 9 clustered on short stalks; elliptical, with many hard black scales; maturing in late summer and remaining attached.


Native to central Alaska, Yukon, and Mackenzie Delta, southeast to central California; in moist soilconditions along banks of streams, swamps, and mountain canyons.


North American Indians used the powdered bark to make a red dye.

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