- Family Betulaceae
- Alnus glutinosa and other Alnus species
- Black Alder, Common Alder, Owler, Tag Alder
- Not to be confused with another plant called Black Alder (Rhamnus frangula syn.Frangula alnus Family Rhamnaceae) which is closely related to Cascara.
Indigenous to the damp regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, alder is a small tree with fissured, orangey bark, growing as high as seventy feet and producing notched, oval leaves which can be very sticky when young. The male flowers are arranged in stemmed catkins, while the female flowers form ovoid fruits which turn woody and remain on the tree the entire year. Thriving in damp places along riverbanks, it now grows in much of the Northern Hemisphere. It is almost identical in appearance to the oak. The bark and the leaves are gathered in spring or fall and best used fresh or from recent collections.
Water resistant, the tree was used in the construction of Venice. Wooster Beech (1794-1868), founder of the Eclectic healing movement, used a decoction of the bark to purify the blood.
- heals wounds
- stops bleeding
- anthraquinone (emodin)
- flavonoids (including hypericin)
- tannin (10-20%)
- Bark, leaves
- Decoctions are used as a tonic and to treat intestinal bleeding.
- Gargles from the decoctions are used to treat streptococcal throat infections.
- Compresses soaked in decoction are used to stauch wound bleeding and to help heal them.
- Washes are used for scabies.
- Poultices from the leaves are used to help reduce breast engorgement of nursing mothers.
Alder is most often used as a mouthwash and gargle for tooth, gum, and throat problems. Its drying action helps to contract the mucous membranes and reduce inflammation.
Since the bark is high in tannin, it can be used in all situations where astringency is needed, including diarrhea, gum inflammations, and sore throats.
For external use, it is good as a wash for cuts, hives, poison ivy, swellings, wounds, and sprains.
In Spain, the leaves are smoothed and placed on the soles of the feet to relieve aching.
The PDR for Herbal Medicines mentions an ophthalmic powder, but gives no further information.