Plant Guide > Trees > Alders > Paperleaf Alder Tree

Paperleaf Alder Tree

Paperleaf Alder TreeThe Paperleaf Alder (A. tenuifolia, Nutt.)-A small tree with thin, firm-textured leaves, ovate in shape with laciniate lobes, twice saw toothed, one of the prettiest of the alders, is abundant in thickets along the headwaters of streams that rise in the Western mountains. It follows the various ranges from British Columbia to Lower California, Colorado and northern New Mexico.

Poets do not always realise their responsibility. The one who characterised the trees that fringed the sluggish streams and cover the "water galls" in England as "the water spungie alder, good for naught," put into rhythmic form, too easy to remember, a stigma that brands a really picturesque and useful tree. The alder's primary virtue is that it will thrive in places so boggy that even willows and poplars cannot grow there. Can any lover of English landscapes spare the alders from unsightly places whose lines they soften and whose baldness they conceai with billows of living green? "He who would see the alder in perfection must follow the banks of the Mole, in Surrey, through the sweet vales of Dorking and Wickleham, into the groves of Esher."

The English people cherish an affectionate regard for their native black alder, a description of which follows. The hawthorns of their hedgerows are not more a part of the life of the people. John Evelyn expresses the sentiment when, after recounting the many practical uses of the tree and its wood, he adds two more: "The fresh leaves alone applied to the naked sole of the foot, infinitely refresh the surbated traveller"; and "The very shadow of this tree doth feed and nourish the grass that grows under it."