Speckled alder

repared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated March 2018.

Scientific name: Alnus incana (L.) Moench

Common name(s): speckled alder, gray alder

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– in New England, ssp. rugosa (Du Roi) Spreng.

-Small shrub 5′ to 20′ tall or a tree up to 40′

-Bark dark brown and speckled with white streaks

-twigs smooth to somewhat hairy, reddish-brown with scattered white lenticels

-Buds blunt tipped, reddish- brown and stalked with two scales

-leaves are

  • Egg-shaped
  • alternate leaves
  • dark green
  • hairless and wrinkled above, whitened, dull and somewhat hairy beneath.
  • Margin double-toothed and undulating

-Unisexual flowers; male catkin is 2″-4″ long and female catkin is 0.5″-0.75″ long

-Nuts tiny and winged borne in a distinctive persistent cone-like structure

– may be confused with A. serrulata or A. viridis; see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage


-disturbed sites

-forest edges

-meadows and fields




Go Botany. “Alnus Incana (L.) Moench.” Alnus Incana (Speckled Alder): Go Botany, 2021, gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/alnus/incana/.