Alder Trees – Alnus Glutinosa


Alnus glutinosa, more commonly known as the Alder or the Common Alder, is a native British tree predominantly found in wetlands and marshy areas across England and throughout Europe. This species is a medium-sized, deciduous tree that is recognised for its broad ecological value and landscape utility.

Alnus glutinosa, more commonly known as the Alder or the Common Alder, is a native British tree predominantly found in wetlands and marshy areas across England and throughout Europe. This species is a medium-sized, deciduous tree that is recognised for its broad ecological value and landscape utility.

The Alder can grow to a height of about 20-30 metres and has a lifespan of up to 60 years, although some specimens can live longer under favourable conditions. Its growth rate is moderate, and the tree reaches maturity in about 20-40 years. The tree has a grey-brown bark and glossy, dark green, rounded leaves with serrated edges that turn yellow before falling in autumn.

One of the most distinctive features of Alnus glutinosa is its flowering and reproduction process. The Alder is monoecious, meaning it carries both male and female flowers on the same tree. It flowers between February and April, with the male flowers appearing as drooping yellow catkins and the female flowers as smaller, upright catkins that develop into small, woody, cone-like fruits. These cones persist on the tree throughout the winter, providing an important food source for wildlife and a unique visual interest.

Unlike most trees found in England, the Alder has a unique ability to thrive in wet and waterlogged conditions, thanks to a symbiotic relationship with a nitrogen-fixing bacterium called Frankia alni. This bacterium lives in nodules on the Alder’s roots and converts atmospheric nitrogen into a form usable by the tree, enabling it to survive in nutrient-poor, waterlogged soils.

In terms of garden design, the Alder offers a lot of value. It provides a lush green canopy in summer and appealing yellow foliage in autumn. Its ability to grow in wet conditions makes it an excellent choice for waterside plantings or rain gardens. The Alder’s form can be manipulated through coppicing or pollarding, allowing gardeners to maintain it at a manageable size if needed.

The Alder tree is vital for wildlife. Its flowers provide early season pollen for bees and other insects. The seeds in its cones are eaten by birds, particularly siskins, redpolls, and goldfinches. Its dense root system provides excellent cover for fish in rivers and lakes, and its leaves, when they fall into the water, are a significant food source for aquatic insects, which in turn provide food for fish and birds.

An interesting fact about the Alder is its historical and cultural significance. Alder wood is resistant to decay when submerged in water, making it a popular material for building foundations, including parts of Venice, and for creating water pipes in the medieval period.

In summary, Alnus glutinosa, the Alder, is a versatile and environmentally beneficial tree. Its unique adaptations, coupled with its value to wildlife and its historical significance, make it a worthy addition to any British garden, particularly those with damp or waterlogged conditions.


Full Standard, Boxhead, Feathered, Multi Stem, Pleached, Half Standard Pleached, Umbrella, Half Standard, Espalier, Mini Standard, Ball, Cone, Spiral, Cube, Cloud Form, Cube Spiral, Cube Multiball, Cube Ball Cone, Pom-pom, Lollipop, Archway, Twisted Stem, Triple Lollipop, Multiball 2, Multiball 3, Dome, Cylinder, Pyramid, Cylindrical Dome, Twisted Stem, Unique, Bonsai, Instant Hedge, Instant Screen, Hedging Plants, Young Tree

Root Type

Pot Grown, Rootball, Bare Root


15-30cm, 30-50cm, 50-70cm, 70-90cm, 90-110cm, 110-130cm, 130-150cm, 150-170cm, 170-200cm, 200-230cm, 230-250cm, 250-270cm, 270-300cm, 300-350cm, 350-400cm, 400-450cm, 450-500cm, 500-600cm, 600-700cm, 700-800cm, 10-20cm, 20-30cm, 30-40cm, 40-50cm, 50-60cm, 60-70cm, 70-80cm, 80-90cm, 90-100cm, 100-110cm, 110-120cm, 120-130cm, 130-140cm, 140-150cm

Stem Girth

4-6cm, 6-8cm, 8-10cm, 10-12cm, 12-14cm, 14-16cm, 16-18cm, 18-20cm, 20-22cm, 22-24cm, 24-26cm, 26-28cm, 28-30cm, 30-35cm, 35-40cm, 40-45cm, 45-50cm, 50-60cm, 60-70cm, N/A, 20-25cm, 25-30cm

Foliage Type




Water Requirement


Growth Height

Medium Growing

Growth Speed

Moderate Growth

Costal Growing






Hard Wood Cutbacks?



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Box/Parcel – Used for plants sized 0-70cm, costs £12. Order £100 worth of plants of that size to qualify for free delivery! Parcel deliveries are always sent for next day delivery unless otherwise specified.

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Private Van – Used for plants sized 231cm and taller, costs £60. Order £350 worth to get free private van delivery!

In all cases you can request a private van delivery, where your plants are delivered by us. Upon your request we can re-evaluate your delivery fee and let you know of the delivery time.

Please note, for pallet and box deliveries we use third party companies to deliver the goods. Not often, but occasionally some delays may happen due to unforeseen circumstances, which are out of our control. For this reason, we ask you to never book gardeners, contractors, or other industry professionals for the estimated delivery date. Please do not book days off work or cancel other commitments specifically for your plant delivery to avoid disappointment.

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Specialized Delivery

If you have any special requirements regarding your delivery, please add it to your order notes or call us on 01603 327269. Always include any delivery restrictions into your order note so appropriate vehicles and good carriers can be used to deliver your plants.

Please note that we currently are unable to deliver to Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland due to Brexit rules and regulations.

For more delivery information refer to our terms and conditions here.

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