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Hazel Alder - Alnus Glutinosa
The Hazel Alder, also called the smooth alder, is a small tree or thicket-forming shrub native to the eastern part of North America. It is commonly found in western Nova Scotia, southern New Brunswick and as far south as Florida and Texas. It grows to a maximum height of between 8 and 13 feet. It is marked by 2 to 4 inch long dark green leaves that are broad and flat, with finely-toothed leaf margins, multiple stems, and reddish-green flowers. The Hazel Alder flourishes in the moist soil near pond margins, riversides, and streams. It reaches its mature size in about ten years.
The plant requires lots of water and full or part sun. The soil in which it is planted should have a pH of between 6.8 and 7.2. The trees should also be spaced between 5 feet and 10 feet apart. The Hazel Alder produces leaves that are dark green on top and pale green on the underside. The flowers are monoecious. They contain the reproductive parts of both sexes. They have 1.6 to 2.4-inch male catkins and 1/2 inch long female catkins. The flowers are in bloom in March and April. The Hazel Alder produces a cone-like dark brown fruit with hard winged scales. The fruit matures in fall and produces seeds in small cones. The tree's bark is smooth and brownish gray.
The Hazel Alder has a great many uses. It's used to stabilize and restore parcels of land threatened by erosion. Although it has an astringent bitter taste, its leaves, flowers, bark, and root also have medicinal uses. It's given to patients with purgative, ophthalmic, astringent, emetic and diuretic symptoms. People dealing with coughs, diarrhea, mouth pain and toothaches or suffering pain associated with childbirth are often given a tea made from Hazel Alder bark.
Along the banks of the Mississippi River, the Hazel Alder is a common sight.
This plant is found mainly in areas such as northern Florida and the Mississippi River. The shrub can grow anywhere from 3 feet or more in a single year. The shrub must have moist or wet soil to grow properly.