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Italian Alder

Alnus cordata

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Betulaceae (Birch)
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
15 metres tall
Gardens, parks, waterside, woodland.

Red, no petals
Italian Alder (Alnus cordata) produces small, inconspicuous flowers that are typically arranged in pendulous catkins. These catkins can be either male or female. Male catkins are slender and yellowish-green, and they release pollen into the air. Female catkins are shorter and more cylindrical, with a reddish hue. The female catkins eventually develop into cone-like structures that contain the tree's seeds. Italian Alder flowers are wind-pollinated, relying on the wind to disperse pollen from male to female catkins. While not known for their showy or colourful appearance, these flowers play a crucial role in the reproductive cycle of the tree.
Italian Alder (Alnus cordata) produces elongated and cylindrical catkins, which are an important part of its reproductive structures. These catkins are typically pendulous, hanging from the branches, and they come in two main types: male and female. Male catkins are usually longer and more slender, with a yellowish-green color, and they release pollen into the air during the spring season. Female catkins, on the other hand, are shorter, often reddish in hue, and they develop into cone-like structures as they mature. The female catkins play a crucial role in seed production, as they house the developing seeds of the tree. Italian Alder relies on wind pollination, and these catkins are an integral part of the tree's reproductive process.
The leaves of the Italian Alder (Alnus cordata) are characterized by their heart-shaped form and serrated edges. These deciduous leaves are typically medium to dark green in color and have a glossy appearance on their upper surface. They are arranged alternately along the branches and can grow to be 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) in length. Italian Alder leaves are known for their attractive and distinctive shape, which adds to the aesthetic appeal of the tree. During the autumn season, the leaves turn yellow before falling to the ground, contributing to the vibrant colors of the fall landscape.
The fragrance of Italian Alder, scientifically known as Alnus cordata, is often described as aromatic and slightly sweet. When the bark or leaves of the tree are crushed or bruised, they release a pleasant, subtle scent that is reminiscent of a combination of earthy and woody notes. This aromatic quality adds to the tree's overall appeal and contributes to its charm in natural settings.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Alnus cordata, also known as the Italian alder or heart-leaved alder, is a deciduous tree that is native to Europe. It belongs to the birch family and is known for its fast growth rate, attractive bark, and conical shape. Alnus cordata can reach heights of up to 50 feet (15 meters) and is often used as a shade tree or in naturalized areas. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates, including wet or flooded areas, and is often used to stabilize riverbanks and improve soil quality. Alnus cordata is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as alder borers and aphids. The tree is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Italian Alder, also known as Alnus cordata, is a deciduous tree that is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. This tree is known for its unique features and adaptability to various climates, making it a popular choice for landscaping and ornamental purposes.

One of the most distinctive features of Italian Alder is its leaves, which are oval-shaped and have a glossy green color. The tree also produces small, inconspicuous flowers in the spring and cones in the fall. These cones are also unique, as they are woody and persist on the tree for several seasons.

Italian Alder is highly adaptable to different soil types and can tolerate both dry and wet conditions. It is also able to withstand salt spray, making it a great choice for coastal areas. Additionally, the tree is known for its tolerance to cold temperatures and can survive in areas with harsh winters.

Another benefit of Italian Alder is its ability to improve soil quality. The tree is able to fix nitrogen in the soil, which can be beneficial for other plants growing in the area. This makes it a great choice for mixed forests and orchards.

In terms of growth, Italian Alder is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of up to 50 feet. It also has a wide spreading canopy, making it a great choice for providing shade and privacy. The tree's wood is also useful, as it is strong, durable, and can be used for a variety of purposes, such as construction and furniture-making.

Overall, Italian Alder is a versatile and resilient tree that is well-suited for a wide range of climates and soil types. Its unique leaves, cones, and ability to improve soil quality make it an interesting and attractive addition to any landscape. This tree is a great choice for those looking to add beauty and function to their outdoor spaces.

In addition to its ornamental and practical uses, Italian Alder also has ecological importance. The tree is a host for a variety of insects and birds, providing them with food and shelter. This can be especially beneficial in urban areas where natural habitats may be limited. The tree's leaves and cones also provide food for animals such as deer, squirrels, and bears.

Italian Alder is also a popular choice for riparian restoration projects. Riparian areas are the transition zones between land and water, and they play a vital role in maintaining water quality, controlling erosion, and providing habitat for a variety of species. Italian Alder is often planted along stream banks and wetlands to stabilize the soil and provide shade, which can help to improve water quality and reduce erosion.

When planting Italian Alder, it is important to consider the tree's mature size and its potential impact on the surrounding area. The tree's roots can be invasive and may damage nearby structures if not properly managed. It is also important to note that the tree can be affected by a variety of pests and diseases, so it is essential to monitor the tree's health and address any issues promptly.

Another important aspect to consider when planting Italian Alder is its compatibility with other plants. The tree can be planted in a mixed forest setting, where it can provide shade and improve soil quality for other species. Additionally, Italian Alder can also be used to create a natural hedge or screen, providing privacy and a visual barrier.

Furthermore, Italian Alder is also a great choice for creating bio-diverse gardens. The tree can provide habitat for a variety of insects, birds, and small mammals, creating a mini-ecosystem in your garden. This can also attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, which can enhance the overall beauty of your garden.

Italian Alder is also a great choice for rain gardens. Rain gardens are designed to capture and filter rainwater runoff from roofs, driveways, and other surfaces. The tree's ability to tolerate wet conditions and improve soil quality makes it a great option for rain gardens, which can help to reduce the impact of urbanization on local waterways.

In terms of maintenance, Italian Alder is relatively low-maintenance, requiring minimal pruning and fertilization. However, it is important to keep an eye out for pests and diseases, and address them promptly. It is also important to water the tree regularly during its first year of growth, to help it establish itself.

In summary, Italian Alder is a multi-purpose tree that can be used for a variety of landscaping, ornamental and ecological projects. Its adaptability, resilience, and ecological importance make it a valuable addition to any garden. With proper care and maintenance, Italian Alder can thrive and provide many benefits for many years to come.

30 Facts About the Italian Alder

Here are 30 amazing facts about Italian Alder trees:

1. Scientific Name: Italian Alder trees are scientifically known as Alnus cordata.

2. Native to Italy: As the name suggests, Italian Alder is native to Italy and can be found growing abundantly there.

3. Deciduous Trees: Italian Alder trees are deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves in the fall.

4. Medium-Sized Trees: They typically grow to a height of 15 to 25 meters (50 to 82 feet).

5. Fast Growers: Italian Alder trees are known for their rapid growth, making them a valuable species for reforestation.

6. Heart-Shaped Leaves: The leaves of Italian Alder trees are heart-shaped and have serrated edges.

7. Tolerant of Wet Soil: They thrive in moist and wet soils and are often found near rivers and streams.

8. Nitrogen-Fixing: Italian Alder trees have the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, improving its fertility.

9. Used in Erosion Control: Their extensive root systems make them excellent choices for stabilizing soil and preventing erosion.

10. Wildlife Habitat: Italian Alder trees provide habitat and food for various wildlife, including birds and insects.

11. Timber Uses: The wood of Italian Alder is used for making furniture, cabinetry, and musical instruments.

12. Aromatic Bark: The bark of these trees has an aromatic scent when crushed.

13. Durable Wood: Italian Alder wood is known for its durability and resistance to decay.

14. Coppicing: It's a species that can be coppiced, meaning it can be cut back to the ground periodically to promote new growth.

15. Windbreaks: They are often used as windbreaks and shelterbelts in agricultural areas.

16. Bee-Friendly: Italian Alder trees attract bees and are considered bee-friendly.

17. Flood-Tolerant: They can withstand occasional flooding and are found in riparian areas.

18. Timber Color: The wood has a light reddish-brown color, making it attractive for woodworking.

19. Longevity: These trees can live for several decades, with some reaching over 100 years of age.

20. Pollution-Tolerant: Italian Alder trees are tolerant of urban pollution, making them suitable for city planting.

21. Versatile Species: They have a wide range of ecological roles, from supporting wildlife to improving soil quality.

22. Wind-Pollinated: The trees are wind-pollinated, with male and female catkins.

23. Leaf Litter: The fallen leaves contribute to nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems.

24. Medicinal Uses: In traditional medicine, various parts of the tree have been used for their medicinal properties.

25. Charcoal Production: Italian Alder wood has been used for charcoal production.

26. Aesthetic Appeal: Their attractive foliage and bark make them a popular choice for landscaping.

27. Streambank Stabilization: They are often planted along riverbanks to prevent erosion.

28. Shade Trees: Italian Alder trees provide excellent shade in urban and suburban areas.

29. Fire-Resistant: The bark has some fire-resistant properties, protecting the tree from wildfires.

30. Carbon Sequestration: Like all trees, Italian Alder contributes to carbon sequestration, helping combat climate change.


Italian Alder filmed at these places:
  • Adlington, Lancashire: 30th September 2023
  • Horwich, Lancashire: 7th September 2023

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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