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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Tuesday - May 30, 2006

From: Fishers, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Alder native to Central Indiana
Answered by: Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

I am trying to find out whether there exists a plant named Alnus rugosa. I bought a plant recently that said Speckled Alder, Alnus serrulata (rugosa), but have been unable to determine if this is a correct Latin name. I wanted one that is native to central Indiana.

ANSWER:

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System indicates that Alnus rugosa is an unaccepted synonym for Alnus incana ssp. rugosa, known as Speckled Alder, Swamp Alder, or Tag Alder. This alder is considered a northeastern, boreal plant and its native range extends only into about the top fourth of Indiana, according to the Flora of North America distribution map.

Alnus serrulata, known as Smooth Alder, Hazel Alder, Brookside Alder, or (confusingly) Tag Alder, has a southeastern distribution and only extends into about the southern fourth of Indiana.

Those appear to be the only alders native to Indiana, leaving the center of the state devoid of natives of that genus. To be true to the natural composition of the region, you might consider alternate trees or shrubs. The Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society can assist with learning about other native woody plants to use. If you do decide to plant one of the state's two alders in central Indiana, I would choose the alder whose range is closest to where you want to plant and make sure it's placed in a suitable site.
 

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