Tag alders bloom in March and April, long before the leaves appear. Both male and female flowers occur on one plant. The male catkins are purplish, opening to yellow-brown and hang down from the branches. The reddish female flowers are held in upright clusters. They are quite attractive in early spring. The fruit resembles mini pinecones and can be used in fall flower arrangements. This is a small tree or large shrub that is at home in moist to wet locations. Especially well suited to stream and pond edges.
Great choice for stream banks, helps reduce erosion
Host plant for many moth varieties
Ruffed grouse, swamp sparrows and eastern goldfinch eat seeds and catkins
Dense branching provides cover and nesting for birds and other wildlife
Both the catkins and the seedpods are decorative
Found along stream banks, bogs, swamps and wet meadows.
Native Americans used a tea made from the bark to treat diarrhea, coughs, toothaches, sore mouth, and to lessen the pain of child birth. The tea was also used as a wash for poison ivy.
Tag alders prefer part sun to light shade in moist to wet locations. In nature you will find them near riversides or streambanks where they help stabilize the soil. Alders fix nitrogen and thus serve as nutrient-giving pioneers in reclamation projects.