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Alnus incana ssp. rugosa

Alnus incana (L.) Moench ssp. rugosa (Du Roi) R.T. Clausen

Speckled Alder

Betulaceae (Birch Family)

Synonym(s): Alnus incana var. americana, Alnus rugosa, Alnus rugosa var. americana

USDA Symbol: alinr

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

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
Fruit Type: Samara
Size Notes: Up to about 25 feet tall.
Leaf: Dark Green.
Fruit: Green.

Bloom Information

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


USA: CT , IA , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , VA , VT , WI , WV
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)

Green Comma
(Polygonia faunus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-09-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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