This is sometimes called smooth, tag or hazel alder. You will find this shrublike tree growing along streams, ponds and lakes throughout much of the southeastern US. This is not a widely cultivated species but is readily abundant in the wild. This tree is very beautiful in February and March when the yellow brown catkins are waving in the early spring wind. Catkins are the drooping male flowers which hang down while the bright red female flowers, some of the first to appear in the southeast US, point upwards. The late Dr. William A. Mitchell, Jr in his Book; Plant Medicine in Practice-using the teachings of John Bastyr, says of the historical use of Tag Alder, "Dr. Bastyr told us to have our patients put the leaves of Alnus in their shoes to relieve sore, aching feet."
The bark is typically used to make a tea or extract and the plant is considered a tonic, has emollient properties, and is also astringent. It is especially helpful for supporting digestion when excess mucus is present. It is included in the classic formula "Scudder's Alterative" and he says of it in his text; "it exerts a specific influence upon the processes of waste and nutrition, increasing one and stimulating the other."
Uses of Alder
This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.