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Alnus rhombifolia

Alnus rhombifolia Nutt.

White Alder

Betulaceae (Birch Family)

Synonym(s): Alnus rhombifolia var. bernardina

USDA Symbol: alrh2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Medium-sized to large tree with tall, straight trunk and open, rounded crown; showy in winter with long, golden-colored male catkins hanging from slender, leafless twigs. In cultivation, this is a 10-30 ft. tree with a tall, straight trunk and ascending or spreading branches pendulous at the ends. The bark is white to grayish and broken into plates on old trunks. The dark-green, deciduous leaves are glossy, oval and doubly toothed. Catkins are 2-several per cluster, and fruit are less than 1/2 in. long. White Alder, named for its pale green foliage, is the only alder native in southern California. Limited to permanent streams, it is a good indicator of water.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Serrate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Samara
Size Notes: Height 40-50 feet, spread to 40 feet.
Leaf: Dark green and glossy above.
Fruit: Less than an inch long.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green
Bloom Time: Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: CA , ID , MT , NV , OR , WA
Native Distribution: Most of cismontane CA, n., on the e. side of the Cascades, to B.C. & c. ID
Native Habitat: Stream banks; mostly below 5000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Moist to wet soils.
Conditions Comments: Fast-growing. Alders fix nitrogen and thus serve as nutrient-giving pioneers in reclamation projects.


Use Ornamental: Sometimes planted as an ornamental in wet sites.
Use Food: Bark used for tea.
Use Medicinal: Leaves used for fleas, burns, eyewash.
Use Other: Shoots used for arrows, roots for baskets. Bark used to make red dye.
Interesting Foliage: yes


Propagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
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.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 37 - Calscape (2019) California Native Plant Society
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Alnus rhombifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Alnus rhombifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Alnus rhombifolia


Record Modified: 2023-03-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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