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Italian Alder, Alnus cordata, is a vigorous, deciduous tree that grows well on poor or waterlogged soils. It isn't ideal for a neatly clipped, formal garden hedge but it makes rough and ready country hedging.
Italian Alder can reach 30 metres if it grows freely as a tree; 20 metres is more typical.
The plants on this page are young saplings, ideal for planting as hedging or in woodland projects. You can also buy larger Italian Alder trees here.
Browse all of our other Alder varieties here.
Italian Alder plants are only delivered bareroot, during winter (Nov-March).
Choosing a size:
When you are ordering Italian Alder plants for a hedge, we generally recommend that you use plants that are graded at 40/60cms or 60/80cms. They are cheaper than large plants, easier to handle and they will establish well in poor conditions. Use larger plants when you need a tall hedge quickly, or if you are going to let them grow into trees. All our hedge plants are measured by their height in centimetres above the ground (the roots aren't measured).
Spacing an Italian Alder hedge:
Plant Italian Alder hedging at 3 plants per metre, 33cms apart.
You can also plant Italian Alder at 5 plants per metre in a staggered double row, with 33 cms between each plant along the row and 40cms between the rows.
General description of Italian Alder plants:
Alnus cordata is a large, fast growing tree with glistening green leaves and a neat, tear-drop shaped canopy. It grows on wet sites and poor soils, including chalky ones, and it is the best alder for growing on drier sites. All alder trees enrich the soil with nitrogen, released from the colonies of nitrogen fixing bacteria living on their roots. This makes them perfect companion plants for reclaiming sites with degraded soil. Alder roots are strong and fibrous, which makes them very good at holding together loose soil.
Alders aren't generally planted as clipped hedges; Italian Alder is the one that we would really recommend for hedging. It looks good as a low-maintenance hedge that is clipped hard every other year.
Italian Alder is an excellent screening and windbreak tree. It is quick to put on height and it doesn't get bent out of shape by the wind.
Yellow-brown catkins are produced in the spring along with the bright, edible foliage.
Note on Alder roots: Alder has invasive roots that can break old water pipes and damage the foundations of old buildings or walls. 30 metres away from vulnerable structures is a safe distance to plant Alder. New build, concrete foundations are not at risk.
History & uses of Alnus cordata
This tree is native to Corsica, Italy and the West coast of Greece and Albania. It was introduced to Britain in 1820.
Today, timber from this tree is mainly used for paper pulp, charcoal and some furniture. In the past, its rot-resistant qualities made it much more widely used. The so-called floating city of Venice is built on stone foundations that rest on closely packed, vertical tree trunks that reach down to the firm clay far below the famous canals. Most of these support trunks are Italian Alder; a lot of larch was used too. The fact that these wooden foundations are still intact today is not really due to the wood's rot-resistance, however: the wood was first preserved by the oxygen-free environment under the city, then petrified by the flow of mineral rich water around the trunks.