Montana Outdoors

June 9, 2011


Filed under: Montana, Outdoors — Tags: , — montucky @ 11:43 pm

It grows in disturbed areas, sometimes where other shrubs cannot establish themselves. I’ve seen dense thickets of it cover old forest roads, establish itself on burned hillsides and provide green growth in avalanche tracks.

I know that it improves soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen in nodules on its roots.

I’ve had it make me extremely uncomfortable when I had to push my way through its dense growth that completely covered a back country trail while hoping that the bear who left a fresh pile of scat and minutes-old tracks on the trail was not still in its almost impenetrable thicket.

Yet it was only recently that I realized that there is also beauty to be found in the tiny flowers in its long and drooping male catkins.

Sitka Alder

Sitka Alder ~ Alnus viridis 6/5


  1. OMG, how special looking plant or better to say the bloom of Sitka Alder. I checked it and it is not found here in Finland. We have Alnus viridis and Alnus glutinosa. That last mentioned is general and it is good when warming with it Sauna. It is giving “soft heath”. 🙂

    Happily You did not meet the bear!


    Comment by sartenada — June 10, 2011 @ 12:45 am

    • The Indians here used this for heat too as well as for smoking fish and meat. I’m not too nervous about running into a black bear in those alder thickets, but a Griz would be a different story.


      Comment by montucky — June 10, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

  2. I don’t recall ever encountering alder. What a great descriptive telling and showing. That is a great shot of the alder… and lovely. 🙂


    Comment by Anna — June 10, 2011 @ 8:40 am

    • I think there is a species of alder there in Kansas, but not this one.


      Comment by montucky — June 10, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

  3. Hi Montucky, How delicate and wonderful! I like your macro photographs as they show the beautiful small things so well. Have a fine day today!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — June 10, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    • I became used to looking at many things through magnification during the many years I worked in semiconductor manufacturing. Th camera lens give me an even better ability to look closely at nature and I enjoy it.


      Comment by montucky — June 10, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

  4. Exquisite detail!!! What a beautiful capture of this!


    Comment by Marcie — June 10, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

    • They are pretty catkins by their shape alone, and even prettier when you can see the tiny flowers.


      Comment by montucky — June 10, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

  5. We have speckled alder here. It isn’t as dense as yours, though. In fact, it stays quite small.
    Well, did you see the bear??


    Comment by sandy — June 10, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

    • I haven’t seen a bear yet this year: saw a moose though! Several years ago I did see a bear peeking out of an alder thicket, and the sign they leave behind tells me that they do use alder as a cover.


      Comment by montucky — June 10, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  6. That is beautiful – I don’t think I’ve seen that here…


    Comment by Stacey Dawn — June 10, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

    • It does grow in Washington, but I’m not sure just where. I kind of remember seeing it in the Cascades.


      Comment by montucky — June 10, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

  7. Hiking on an abandoned trail that has been overgrown by alders is one of my least-favorite hiking experiences. Bears or not. But your catkin photos are lovely.


    Comment by Kim — June 10, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

  8. I had to look up catkins. Interesting plant.


    Comment by Candace — June 11, 2011 @ 11:02 am

    • It is interesting and I understand that it is quite helpful, but I don’t especially like it. It will completely take over old roads and trails. It gets up to 15 feet tall and grows very thick.


      Comment by montucky — June 11, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

      • And not only that, the stems tilt and spread out over a wide area, making it hard to climb over, go under, or even go around them. Nasty hiking conditions!


        Comment by Kim — June 12, 2011 @ 8:23 am

  9. Dense enough to hide a bear, hmm? Wow! I love those teeny flowers, but not the thought that a bear might be lurking behind them. 🙂


    Comment by Bo Mackison — June 12, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

    • I prefer a little more visibility too. Last fall I even encountered a moose mostly hidden by alders. The animals find that alders make great cover for them. The only one I am concerned about though is the Grizzly and they are infrequent visitors to most of the areas that I frequent.


      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

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