Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Alnus incana ssp. rugosa

Speckled alder

Betulaceae (Birch Family)

Alnus incana ssp. rugosa (Speckled alder)
A low and clump-forming shrub; sometimes a small tree. The Latin subspecies name, meaning rugose or wrinkled, refers to the network of sunken veins prominent on the lower leaf surfaces.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Leaf: Dark Green
Fruit: Green
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: CT , IL , IN , IA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , ND , OH , PA , RI , VT , VA , WV , WI
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Widespread across Canada from Yukon and British Columbia to Newfoundland, south to West Virginia, west to NE. Iowa, and north to NE. North Dakota; almost to northern limit of trees; in south to 2600 (792 m).
Native Habitat: Wet soil along streams and lakes, and in swamps.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Conditions Comments: Nitrogen fixing using root nodules


Use Ornamental: Planted as an ornamental at water edges.
Use Wildlife: Alder thickets provide cover for wildlife, browse for deer and moose.
Use Medicinal: Bark was boiled to make medicinal teas for treating rheumatism. It was also applied to wounds as a poultice to reducing bleeding and swelling.
Use Other: Inuit people and settlers extracted a dark dye from the bark for tanning and staining hides.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Green Comma butterfly

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Alnus incana ssp. rugosa is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Green Comma
(Polygonia faunus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2007-01-01