Common Name Sitka alder
Origin North America
Moisture wet to mesic
N fixing yes (no data)
Sitka alder is a valuable shrub for slope and stream bank stabilization and general erosion control on disturbed, nutrient poor sites. It can be planted for acid, coal and copper mine spoil reclamation, soil enrichment, and other land rehabilitation efforts where an easy to establish, deciduous shrub is desired. The species may also be useful in hedgerows, the shrub row of field windbreaks, and other conservation buffers.
As host to symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria in its roots, Sitka alder is particularly important for improving forest site productivity and is sometimes used as a companion or nurse shrub in conifer plantations (Compared to red alder (Alnus rubra)), Sitka alder is considered potentially less competitive with young conifers because of its smaller stature and slower growth. It is not used for commercial timber but is a source of firewood.
Sitka and green alder had several medicinal uses. Pistillate catkins of Sitka alder were crushed and eaten raw for treating gonorrhea. The inner bark or ointments made from it were used to treat skin problems such as wounds, skin ulcers, and swellings. Fresh scraped bark juice was applied to the skin to relieve itching from rash and a fresh infusion was made to treat poison ivy in the US. The bark was also used for treating constipation, jaundice and diarrhea. Leaf decoctions were used to treat burns and swollen wounds. Alder roots are high in tannins and were boiled and drunk as an astringent. A decoction of stems was apparently drunk as a remedy for colds or dried stems were placed in the nose or chewed for the same reason.
The catkins of Sitka alder can be eaten raw or cooked but have a bitter taste, and, well, there is a lot more tasty things to eat. Apparently, young buds and inner bark are edible as well, but the bark will cause vomiting if not dried or aged first.