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Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata (Sitka alder)
Lytle, Melody

Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata

Alnus viridis (Chaix) DC. ssp. sinuata (Regel) Á. Löve & D. Löve

Sitka Alder, Mountain Alder

Betulaceae (Birch Family)

Synonym(s): Alnus alnobetula, Alnus crispa ssp. laciniata, Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata, Alnus sinuata, Alnus viridis var. sinuata, Duschekia sinuata


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

A thicket-forming shrub, usually 10-15 ft. tall, with short, nearly horizontal branches forming a narrow crown. The shiny, oval, toothed leaves and catkins develop with the leaves on growth of the current season. Bark is reddish-brown, becoming gray-black.

In Alaska, Sitka Alder is a pioneer in disturbed areas, following landslides, logging, and glacial retreat. Adapted to soils too barren for other trees, this subspecies improves soil conditions by adding organic matter and nitrogen from bacteria in its root nodules. It acts as a short-lived nurse tree for Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), later dying when shaded by the larger conifer.


From the Image Gallery

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Ovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Double-serrate
Leaf Texture: Papery
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin
Fruit Type: Samara
Size Notes: Up to about 30 feet tall, often much shorter.
Leaf: Green to yellow-green above and paler green below.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown cone-like, 1/2 to 1 inch long.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AK , CA , ID , MT , OR , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC
Native Distribution: AK to n. CA & through the Rockies to WY
Native Habitat: Moist woods; stream banks; pond margins; open, mt. slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Useful in erosion control. Alders fix nitrogen and thus serve as nutrient-giving pioneers in reclamation projects.


Attracts: Birds


Description: Propagated from freshly collected seeds released from the female conelets in fall.
Seed Treatment: If seeds have dried in storage, a cool-moist stratification at 41 degrees for 180 days will be necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata


Record Modified: 2022-09-27
Research By: TWC Staff

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