The Q&A Archives: The Alder tree

Question: While visiting a local tree nursery, I found a tree that had capsules, (cones) on it that looked like a Red Alder, but the leaves were very different. They were about 4 to 5 inches long and about 2 inches wide. The leaves are very pointed. The owner told me it was a Chinese or a European Alder??? It is not a mountain alder. He gave me some of the capsules to try and germinate the seeds. My question is in three parts...first, where can I find information on the Chinese or European Alder? Second, have you heard of such an alder that I have described? Third, what advice would you give me for successful germinating the seeds?

Thank you for your help.

Answer: What you describe sounds like a Japanese Alder (Alnus japonica). Here's a link to a website with photos of the tree.

If this is the tree in question, you'll find lots of information about it on the site; if it is not the right alder, you can do a search to try and find a match.

Alder seeds can be broadcast in spring. They need light to germinate, so scatter the seeds and press them against the soil surface so they make good contact, but don't cover them with additional soil. Keep the seedbed moist but not soggy wet. The seeds should germinate in a few weeks.

Best wishes with your seed starting project!

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