Black or Common Alder, Alnus glutinosa, is the native British Alder. It is very hardy and thrives on wet, waterlogged soil that most other trees couldn't grow on, although it does require a sunny position. Common Alder makes a decent country hedging plant. Common Alder is not ideal for short hedges under about 2 metres; it is too vigorous. It can reach a height of 25 metres if it grows freely as a tree. The plants on this page are young saplings, ideal for planting as hedging or in woodland projects. You can also buy Common Alder trees in large standard sizes here, which will give you instant impact as a garden specimen. Or look at our range of hedging plants and other shrubs.
Common Alder hedge plants are only delivered bareroot, during winter (Nov-March).
Choosing a size: When you are ordering Common 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 the larger 90/120cms plants, easier to handle and they will establish well in poor conditions. Use larger plants if you want a taller hedge quickly, or for instant impact. All our hedge plants are measured by their height in centimetres above the ground (the roots aren't measured).
Spacing a Common Alder Windbreak:
Plant Common Alder hedging at 2 plants per metre, 50 cms apart.
General description of Common Alder plants:
Native Alder is a vigorous plant with quite dark green, blunt heart shaped leaves that turn pale yellow in autumn.
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 glutinosa
Although it is fairly short lived in the wild (about 120 years), it will last much longer when it is coppiced and it was an essential tree during the industrial revolution for three main reasons:
Common alder is found over most of Europe, Russia, North Africa and parts of Asia. It is also known as Smooth Alder.