Black alder: properties and benefits

Black alder: properties and benefits

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L'alder black, often called simply as "alder", is a small and medium-sized tree that is distinguished by the particular rounded shape of the leaves, of a glossy dark green color. It belongs to the birch family and is native to Europe, Western Asia, North Africa and Asia Minor, especially in the areas near waterways and in low or swampy sites.

The look

As we have already mentioned, the black alder is easily recognizable. Its leaves are simple, alternating and leathery. They have a serrated edge and a rounded shape, with a blunt or serrated tip. The young leaves are sticky to the touch, but become smoother with age: they are usually up to 13 cm long and 5 - 8 cm wide with raised veins on the underside. They have a glossy dark green upper surface, while the underside is light green, with brown hairs in the corners of the veins. The leaves are rich in nitrogen and add additional nitrogen to the soil as they decompose.

We also remember that the European black alder is a monoecious tree, which has both male and female flowers at the same time. The thin male flowers, reddish brown in color, develop in autumn, overwinter on the tree and expand in spring before the leaves emerge. In spring, the female flowers emerge and are fertilized by the pollen of the male catkins. After fertilization, the female catkins harden into conical shaped fruits that produce small winged seeds.

The health benefits of black alder

L'alder black is a plant particularly known in the more naturalistic medicine, thanks above all to the properties deriving from its bark. But what are the main ones benefits for well-being and health?

We have summarized them in the following points.

Oral hygiene

The alder is known for its astringent properties, and is therefore appreciated for being useful in the treatment of numerous oral problems, including bad breath odor.


Black alder has long been known to be effective in treatment of bleeding external and internal. It is in fact famous for being an effective natural cure against skin infections and minor bleeding.


The decoction prepared with this herb is known to be useful in treating numerous problems inflammation. It can contain the mild effects of rheumatism.


According to some, a decoction prepared with this herb could help effectively treat problems such as cancer, especially those that occur on the face, tongue and breasts. Of course, as there are no accredited scientific analyzes on this front, we can only advise you to talk to your doctor.

Other benefits of black alder

As for the others main benefits of black alder, we note how the bark decoction is useful for treating swelling and inflammation, especially of the throat, and is known to cure the ague. It is said that farmers in the Alps have long been frequent users of this decoction in order to treat rheumatism, or using bags filled with heated leaves.

Among the other benefits that are credited to black alder, we note how the powdered bark and leaves have also been used as an internal astringent and tonic, and that the bark has been particularly used as an internal and external hemostatic against bleeding. .

We also note that the boiling of inner cortex in vinegar it produces a useful wash to treat lice and a series of skin problems such as erythema and encrustations, and that the liquid can also be used as a substance to promote proper tooth washing.

As for the others non-medicinal uses of the black alder, we briefly highlight in the conclusion of this study how the bark is used by dyers and tanners for fishermen's nets, and that the powdered bark has been used as an ingredient in toothpastes.

From the bark an ink and a brown-red dye is obtained, while a green dye can be obtained through the catkins. A pink dye is obtained from fresh green wood, while a yellow dye can be obtained from the bark and young shoots.

Finally, it is said that the sticky leaves, if scattered in a room, are useful for capturing fleas, which tend to rest on their surface. The black alder wood is instead used for furniture, pencils, bowls, woodcuts, plinths, and is highly appreciated by cabinet makers. It is also a good firewood.

As for its use, it is possible to take a tablespoon of crushed alder leaves, to add to a cup of boiling water, leaving to infuse for half an hour. If, on the other hand, you prefer to use black alder as a decoction, just boil 1 teaspoon of bark in 1 cup of water.

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