Smooth Alder

By William T. Hathaway

Smooth Alder (Alnus serrulata)

A few decades ago local alders were considered to be the classical speckled alder as portrayed in poems and romantic writings of the time. Nowadays, the general public may have access to a variety of colorful “nature books” dealing with our local flora and fauna. Of all the aggressive tree-like shrubs the smooth alder (Alnus serrulata) tops the list. In many instances a fisherman can prepare a fishing stance only by chopping through the resistant, vegetative wall of smooth alders surrounding the pond.

From left to right our picture shows winter cones. Next come two early springtime catkins which produce the yellow pollen clouds that waft through the air as the alder branchlets are struck. (I honestly doubt if there is a farmer, fisherman or outdoor person who hasn't been surprised by the yellow, vaporous apparition produced when father or grandfather shook the alder branches.) Lastly, we have the vigorous summertime greenery, topped with four immature cones.