Wood Facts

Alder by Paul L. McClure

Some trees are truly medicine trees.

Alder is one of them. Herbalists throughout the centuries have used brews made from its bark and leaves as an astringent, a quinine substitute and an ant ยก-inflammatory. The Cherokee Indians used alder concoctions to treat birth pains, sprains, skin eruptions, coughs, colds and even heart trouble.

About thirty species of alder exist worldwide. Of these, only red alder (Alnus rubra) is used for cabinctmaking. Red alder is one of a few alder species found in the U.S. and Canada and is the most commercially exploited hardwood on the North Pacific coast.

The tree, which seldom lives more than 80 years, typically reaches a height of 90 ft. and a diameter of less than 36 in. It often grows along watercourses where its expansive root system helps keep erosion in check.

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