Black Alder, a native of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, was introduced to North America long ago and has escaped from cultivation, and it is sometimes seen along bodies of water, where it may successfully self-sow and form pure stands. Today, it is grown as a shade tree in urban areas, or at wet sites (ponds, creeks, drainage ditches, etc.) where it thrives and provides both erosion control and ornamental appeal. It also is used to fix nitrogen in poor soils.
In late winter, its emergent pendulous catkins sway in the breeze, providing early ornamental appeal. Fast growing, trees found in the open may reach 60 feet tall by 25 feet wide. As a member of the Birch Family, it is related to the Birches, Hornbeams, Filberts, and Hophornbeams, in addition to other Alders.
Planting Requirements - European Black Alder is adaptable to a wide range of favorable or harsh environmental conditions. It prefers moist to wet soils of variable pH that are rich and deep, but adapts to average or poor soils that are dry in summer. Growth is especially rapid in occasionally wet to permanently wet areas, such as floodplains , streambanks, and ditches. It grows in full sun to partial shade, and is found in zones 4 to 7.
Potential Problems - European Black Alder, while capable of having a few minor disease and pest problems, is usually trouble-free.
The Black Alder is one of 8 tree seedlings which will be offered in the 2014 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District. Other seedlings include Douglas fir, Sawtooth oak, American chestnut, Butternut, Red Maple, Tulip Poplar, and White Pine. Also available this year are 2 varieties of apples; Nova Spy and Goldrush. The district will also offer 2 varieties of blueberry; Aurora, and Blue Ray. New this year is a cover crop mix for gardeners. And as usual, the district has high quality all cedar birdfeeders and houses for sale. For more information and to receive an order blank, please call 740-432-5624.