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Alnus cordata - Italian Alder

Alnus cordata is a handsome tree, native to Southern Italy. It is fast growing, conical in form and ideal for parks, gardens and urban environments where space allows.

Early in the spring, before the leaves emerge, the pollination process begins when both male and female catkins are produced on the plant. The male catkins are pendulous and can be up to 10cm long, yellow-orange in colour. The female catkins are much smaller and stubby. When pollinated they develop into small dark woody cones which disperse the small winged seeds once matured in Autumn. The cones remain on the trees throughout most of the winter and are also larger than any other Alder species.

The leaves of Alnus cordata are heart shaped (cordate) and an attractive glossy green. Although it is deciduous, it has a long season in leaf, holding on to its foliage later than many other trees. In urban areas where light and heat levels are higher this season is extended even further.

Italian Alder is tolerant of pollution, dry soils and poor site conditions, making it a useful tree for landscaping a wide range of sites. It can be seen planted in poor soils, compacted areas and soils with a high pH value. Its resistance to wind make it an ideal plant for screening and windbreaks and it can also be planted in coastal regions.

As with other Alnus species, Alnus cordata has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air.

Plant Profile

Name: Alnus cordata

Common Name: Italian Alder

Family: Betulaceae

Height: up to 25m

Demands: Ideal on a moist, well drained soil but toleran of dry and poor conditions

Foliage: Glossy green, heart shaped leaves

Flower: Male and female catkins borne in early spring

Bark: Smooth when young developing vertical crack with age

Fruit: Female catkins develop into small woody cones which remain on the tree through winter

Alnus cordata info sheet

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