Alnus cordata
Common Name: Italian alder
Type: Tree
Family: Betulaceae
Native Range: Corsica
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: March
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green (male), reddish-green (female)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Best grown in medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Also tolerates dry, infertile soils. Prune in winter to early spring. Best in cool climates. Does not perform well south of USDA Zone 7. Suckers from the roots form thickets.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Alnus cordata, commonly called Italian alder, is a pyramidal, fast-growing, small to medium-sized, deciduous tree that is native to Corsica and southern Italy. It typically grows to 30-50’ in cultivation. It is particularly noted for its attractive glossy green leaves. Flowers are monoecious (separate male and female flowers on the same tree) appearing in catkins. Male catkins are yellow-green (elongated to 2-3” long). Female catkins are reddish-green but very small (1/4" long). Catkins appear in March before the leaves emerge. Female catkins are followed by 1-inch long fruiting cones (strobiles) composed of winged seeds. These fruiting cones (largest in the Alnus genus) resemble small pine cones and are attractive to birds. They mature to reddish-brown in fall and persist into winter. Mature bark is a light gray-brown with fissures and ridging. Ovate, finely toothed, glossy green leaves (to 2-4" long) remain on the tree late into fall (December), with insignificant fall color produced. Trees can fix nitrogen from the air.

Genus name is the Latin name for alder.

Specific epithet means heart-shaped in reference to the leaves.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Canker can be severe. Watch for aphids, leaf miners, tent caterpillars, lace bugs and flea beetles. Powdery mildew may appear. Chlorosis will occur in high pH soils.

Garden Uses

Good selection for difficult sites such as moist low spots or dry sites with poor soils. Effective as a windbreak.