Alder is the common name of a genus of over thirty species belonging to the Birch family. They are known for glossy, dark green foliage, handsome bark and a tolerance for wet sites. Unfortunately, this last trait renders it unsuited to the kind of dry sites we find on the plains, save for river banks where they can dangle their roots in the water. But a new alder, Prairie Horizon, is a drought tolerant alder and is a superior cultivar of the Manchurian alder, Alnus hirsuta. Manchurian alder is native to Central and Northern Asia making it tolerant of the cold as well as the dry conditions of those regions. Prairie Horizon, or Alnus hirsuta ‘Harbin’, is a selection of that species and is a rapidly growing, medium-sized tree with dark green leaves in summer that turn a rich golden-yellow in autumn. The bark is particularly striking; smooth, pearl-grey and beech-like. Purple catkins and clusters of brown, cone-like strobiles add interest to the tree during winter. It will grow to about 30 feet in height when mature.

Prairie Horizon is well suited to the upper mid-west of the United States and the adjoining provinces of Canada, particularly Saskatchewan and Alberta. However, it is not limited to those regions and can be equally at home in the UK, as well as cooler portions of New Zealand and Australia. As of now it is not available in the big discount nurseries but is beginning to show up in the more specialised tree nurseries.

Prairie Horizon alder


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