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Tree Campus: Red Alder

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b


Red Alder

yəsawiʔac - S. Lushootseed

Alnus rubra (BETULACEAE)



W. North America



"Red alder grows rapidly, often reaching heights of 35 feet (10 m) in 10 years; therefore, only young plants are available as browse. Leaves and twigs of saplings are eaten by cattle, sheep, and goats, sometimes in preference to other fairly good browse. Deer and elk eat the leaves, twigs, and buds of young red alder trees in fall, winter, and early spring. Beavers eat the bark, and build dams and lodges with the stems. Alder (Alnus spp.) seeds are eaten by redpolls, siskins, and goldfinches. Red alder seeds are an important food for deer mice, especially when other primary foods are difficult to obtain. Seeds eaten off the snow after being dispersed." [1]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest extracted a red dye from the inner bark of red alder, which was used to dye fish nets, making the net "invisible" to fish. Red alder contains salicin, which chemically is closely related to acetylsalicylic acid (commonly known as aspirin). This is probably why Native Americans used various preparations for medicinal purposes. Native Americans also used the wood for various utensils. Red alder coals are currently used in the Northwest to smoke salmon." [1]



"Red alder is considered the most important commercial hardwood of the Pacific Northwest. The fine even texture and moderate density of red alder wood make it easy to work with. It sands and polishes easily, holds paints and coatings well, stains readily, and seldom splits . Due to these favorable characteristics, and the fact that it is much less expensive than other hardwoods used in furniture manufacturing, red alder wood is extensively for furniture making and cabinetry. It is also used in the manufacture of novelties, trim, paneling, pallets, veneers, plywoods, and paper roll plugs. Smaller manufactured items include brush handles, spools, trays, shoe soles, and boxes. Red alder is an important source of pulp for paper products. Research is being conducted to determine the feasibility of producing 4x8 foot (1.2-2.4 m) sheets of waferboard from chips.

Trees less than 8 inches (20.3 cm) in diameter are generally chipped or cut for fuel wood. Sawmill logs need to be greater than 7 or 8 inches (17.8-20.3 cm) in diameter at the small end and over 30 feet (9.1 m) long.

Red alder is also an important source of firewood." [1]



[1] Uchytil, Ronald J. 1989. Alnus rubra. In: Fire Effects Information System,. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:

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