Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
BIRCH FAMILY (Betulaceae)
IND. STATUS: OBL
FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A deciduous shrub or small tree occasionally reaching 10 m. in height. Leaves are alternate, simple, serrate to doubly serrate, and ovate to oval. Undersides of leaves are pale green or have a thin, waxy coating. Leaves are often hairy above with hairy veins beneath. Main leaves have 9-12 pairs of lateral veins. Twigs have sessile, woody, cone-like pistillate catkins. Staminate catkins are pendulous and usually clustered. Over winter, both types of catkins are conspicuous: last growing season's pistillate catkins and the new staminate catkins that will flower in spring.
ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Speckled alder is the dominant in alder thickets of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and it may also be present in bogs and coniferous swamps on acidic soils. It occurs primarily in and north of the vegetation tension zone. Speckled alder is an important wildlife food plant, especially for beaver and white-tailed deer. Another common name is tag alder. A synonym is A. rugosa (DuRoi) Sprengel.
SOURCE: Gleason and Cronquist (1991); Swink and Wilhelm (1994); and Voss (1985).