Betulaceae (birch family) Alnus

Alnus rhombifolia white alder

California to British Columbia
Alnus rhombifolia branchlet. From Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope, George B. Sudworth, USDA, 1907

The deciduous white alder is native to campus, for example along San Francisquito Creek and at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. The prominently ribbed leaves, which have coarse teeth with smaller teeth on them, are shiny dark green above and pale green below and have a pleasant aroma when rubbed. Winter buds are conspicuous in the leaf axils. The male catkins, which produce attractive flower clusters, and the 1-inch cones resembling birch cones, add interest. The bark is light gray.

There are several along the south wall of the Bing Wing of Green Library toward the School of Education, some quite old. A row of three is on Peter Coutts Road midway between Raimundo Way and Page Mill Road. A dozen or more are in the big lawn on Peter Coutts Circle, and another large one is at 1047 Cathcart Way. Mountain alder (A. tenuifolia) can be seen at Stanford Sierra Camp as a small tree with its feet in the waters of Fallen Leaf Lake.

Illustrations: Branchlet of Alnus rhombifolia and A. cordata (John Rawlings, ca. 2005) | Jasper Ridge photo archive.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.