Alder: The Prairie Horizon

Authored by Sheldon Falk - Owner
Sept 27th, 2022
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My brain is still on the topic of less known and newer trees. So, lets talk about Prairie Horizon Alder.

Have you ever played the game telephone? You whisper something in someone’s ear, then they whisper what you said into the next person’s ear and so on down the line. By the time the message reaches the last person it has completely changed. This is what happened with Prairie Horizon Alders description of watering requirements. I personally know Dr. Dale Herman and talked to him specifically about this tree’s needs.

Alders are related to Birch; they all need even moisture. Prairie Horizon Alder happens to be a more drought-tolerant Alder, but not a tree to put in difficult dry spots as it’s been advertised. Somewhere between the researcher/developer of this tree and the retail industry has the true message been lost. This tree does best in an evenly moist condition. It will live longer than most Alders in semi dry but not in dry conditions.

Now let’s talk about the actual tree. Alders are native here, we have at least two types in the prairies, Striped and Mountain Alder. Striped Alder has a smaller leaf and stature. Usually not more than fifteen to twenty feet all around. I’ve seen them growing locally around La Broquerie. In nature they are usually multi-stemmed bushes. They can be grown in small single stem trees if correctly pruned from early on. Mountain Maple is also a Prairie tree and I’ve seen it near Saskatoon as well as Gibbons Alberta. I’m sure it is common around streams in both provinces. Mountain Alder can grow a little higher at 20 to 25 ft.

We have sold some of each. Prairie Horizon Alders from Manchuria. It differs in that it is a single stem tree growing 30 to 40 ft tall and 25 wide. The leaves of both Mountain and Prairie Horizon Alder are large, broad Sawtoothed, and dark green. The tree has its own unique look which is always an asset in a climate like ours where we have a limited number of species. If watered regularly, this tree can grow quickly, at least 2′ a year and it maintains a nice upright form. The large dark green leaf adds a nice coarse texture to the landscape. Fall colour is green to pale yellow. Another asset is that the seed it produces does not germinate easily because it needs consistent and even moisture which we do not get in our up and down Springs. The tree has been around at least 10 years and has proven itself fully hardy. It is well worth trying but not in a difficult dry spot!

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