The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Alder

Contents:

Common Names | Parts Usually Used | Plant(s) & Culture | Where Found | Medicinal Properties
Legends, Myths and Stories | Uses | Formulas or Dosages | Bibliography

Scientific Names

Black Alder

Black Alder

  • Alnus glutinosa L.
  • Alnus rubra L.
  • Aquifoliaceae
  • Betulaceae
  • Birch family

Common Names

  • Black alder
  • European alder
  • Fever bush
  • Owler
  • Red Alder
  • Smooth Alder
  • Winter berry

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Parts Usually Used

Bark, leaves
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Red Alder

Red Alder

Black alder (A. glutinosa) is a deciduous tree up to 80 feet high; the alternate leaves are round-obovate, usually doubly serrate, scalloped, and have a tuft of down on the underside. The flowers are segregated by sex into separate catkins, the reddish-purple female ones developing into hard cones that contain the seeds. 2-8 catkins will occur in a cluster on a forked peduncle.

Red alder (A. rubra) grows as a shrub or tree. It has elliptic-ovate leaves that are dark green on top and rusty-haired underneath. Found in evergreen and redwood forests from Northern California to Alaska. Uses and dosage is the same as A. glutinosa.

Smooth alder (A. serrulata) sometimes called the Hazel alder, is a shrub or tree with blackish bark that is lightly speckled with small, grayish to orange lenticels. Its leaves are elliptic to obovate, finely serrate and usually fine-haired underneath. It can be found from Nova Scotia to Oklahoma, Florida, and Louisiana. Medicinally used the same as black alder.
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Where Found

Smooth Alder

Smooth Alder

Black alder (A. glutinosa) grows in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and locally in North America. Found in cooler regions, forming dense stands around swamps and along streams and rivers. Cool, moist or even wet soils.
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Medicinal Properties

Astringent, bitter tonic, emetic, hemostatic, mucilaginous, cathartic, alterative
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Culpeper states: “The said leaves gathered while the morning dew is on them, and brought into a chamber troubled with fleas, will gather them there unto, which being suitably cast out, will rid the chamber of these troublesome fellows.”

Native Americans sometimes dyed basket grass with alder bark in a brilliant burnt orange shade, which fades with age to a rich brown.
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Uses

Fresh alder bark will cause vomiting; so use dried bark for other than emetic purposes. A decoction of the bark makes a good gargle for sore throat and pharyngitis. The powdered bark and the leaves have been used as a tonic. Boiling the inner bark in vinegar produces an external wash for lice and for skin problems such as scabies and scabs, psoriasis, rheumatism, inflammations, good for burning and aching feet, dropsy, shingles, impetigo, pruritis, poultice for swellings of all kinds including enlarged glands, scrofula. You can use the liquid to clean your teeth and firm gums. An effective worm medicine for children. Inner bark boiled in vinegar will kill lice, cure the itch, cures old sores, and good for toothache.
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: use 1 heaping tbsp. crushed alder leaves to 1 pint boiling water. Let steep for 1/2 hour.

Decoction: boil 1 tsp. bark, or leaves in 1 cup water. For internal use, take 1-2 cups a day, in mouthful doses.

Tincture: a dose is from 1/2 to 1 tsp.

Powder: a dose is from 8-12 grains.

Poultice: use just enough water to moisten the leaves.
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Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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