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

 Native Plant Database

Alnus serrulata

Smooth alder, Hazel alder, Brookside alder, Tag alder, Common alder, Black alder

Betulaceae (Birch Family)

Alnus serrulata (Smooth alder)
Cox, Paul
A multiple-trunked, suckering shrub, 12-20 ft. tall, with a picturesque habit and shiny gray-brown bark. Summer foliage is dark green and glossy, becoming yellow, tinged with red, in fall. Flowers are purple catkins; males in drooping clusters, females in upright clusters. The fruit resembles a small, woody cone and persists through Feb. Sometimes a small tree, commonly found at edge of water.

The only alder native in southeastern United States, where it is common and widespread, forming thickets.

Image Gallery:

4 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Obovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Serrate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin
Size Notes: Height to 15 feet.
Leaf: Dark green above, paler and finely hairy beneath.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown Cone like catkin 1/2 inch long.
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr
Bloom Notes: Males green-brown, female reddish.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MS , MO , NH , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , DC
Canada: NB , NS , PE , QC
Native Distribution: N. FL to e. TX, n. to s.w. N.S. (locally), c. ME, c. VT, OH, s. IL, & s.e. MO
Native Habitat: Stream banks; bogs; swamp borders; wet meadows

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Wet, fine sandy loams, peats & mucks.
Conditions Comments: Physiological problems are rare, however the wood is weak and breakage is common. Very flood tolerant. Alders fix nitrogen and thus serve as nutrient-giving pioneers in reclamation projects.


Use Wildlife: An intermediate source of food for wildlife.
Attracts: Birds

Last Update: 2015-11-13