Alnus incana, the Grey alder, takes its name from its grey bark and the silvery-grey tint to its young leaves. In early spring, before the leaves appear, Grey alder produces yellow catkins with a pretty pink-red tinge and plump little green cones, which will mature and release seeds in autumn. Grey Alders is a relatively short-lived tree, usually dying after about 100 years. Its seedlings are extremely vigorous and can grow by up to a metre per year. Mature trees are fairly narrow and upright and are great for really wet soil and freezing cold sites. They need plenty of sun and will not grow on chalk or very acidic peat. Grey alder is a very vigorous tree that tends to grow lots of suckering shoots from its base, which provides cover for small animals. Like all the Alder family, this tree improves the soil around it by releasing soluble Nitrogen. Alnus incana can reach a height of about 30 metres, but 20 metres is more usual. Standard trees are the largest size that we deliver; you can also buy younger Grey Alder saplings here.
Grey Alder standards are also available as the ornamental cultivar Alnus incana 'Aurea'.
How Standard Trees are Measured:
All our standards, are graded by their girth in centimetres 1 metre above ground level (basically, their trunk's waist measurement). They aren't measured by their height, which will vary. So, a 6/8 standard has a trunk with a circumference of 6-8 centimetres and an 8/10 standard has a trunk 8-10 centimetres around. This measurement makes no difference to the tree's final height. Standard trees are 2.5 - 4.5 metres tall (on average) when they arrive; they are the most mature trees that you can buy from us.
History & uses of Alnus incana: This tree is native to Europe and Russia. Its most common natural habitat is along the banks of rivers. Alder trees are often planted on reclaimed sites where the soil is very poor or at risk of erosion. They improve the soil for other plants and their matted roots are good at holding loose soil together.
Grey alder wood isn't commercially useful, but it is very easy to carve. It is sometime called Speckled Alder.