Nicole Alderman wrote:I've never encountered sitka alder (that I know of), but I do have red alder. I've tried copising some of the red alder I have growing, but somewhere around 1/2 of them don't survive the copsing. Maybe Sitka alder's can handle it better? My husband has been pretty heavily pruning a red alder, and the tree seems to be doing fine. So, it might be that heavy pruning could work for chop and drop as well as nitrogen fixing?
Hopefully my reply will BUMP this up, and someone who knows about sitka alders might see it!
Have you thought of nitrogen-fixing groundcovers? Do we have any that are native here? I have in my lawn some trefoils and clover, but the trefoils are not native, and I'm assuming that the clover isn't, too. What about vetch? It looks like some might be native to north America, though I don't know if there are any native to our area of the US...
Roberto pokachinni wrote:I think that sitka alder (alnus veridis or green alder) is likely an excellent choice for your project. This is the local alder up here as well. You will have to do some experimentation on coppicing as I haven't found any info on it myself. That said, when the local ditch growth is smashed to bits by the highways crew with a brush hog attachment on an excavator, the alders grow back along with the willows, birches, poplars, and cottonwoods. As far as chop and drop of branches, you have found a great shrub for your system, so long as you have good rooted specimens to start with. It's natural function is to provide nitrogen; this is partly done by the bacterial association on the roots, but is also done by it's heavy leaf and twig drop. I'm sure this could be enhanced and utilized to your advantage with proper pruning at a young age to encourage bushiness. It is likely easier to kill than willow, but it may be better to not heavily coppice it anyway, as the ongoing nitrogen support might be worth keeping it as shrub nitrogen support amongst the higher value trees.
Nicole - how old were your red alder when you coppiced them? Some things I have read said they do better if they are younger than 7 years but I have no first hand experience coppicing red alder.
Nicole Alderman wrote:
I don't know exactly how old my alders were that I coppiced, as they came with the property. But, they're trunks weren't more than maybe 2.5 inches in diameter and they weren't more than 8 feet tall at the time. I'm thinking they were only maybe 5 years old. I'm pretty sure I cut them with my Felco hand pruners, so they couldn't have been that big....Come to think of it, that might have been part of the problem when I coppiced them, as I was more intent on just getting the things cut without having to try and grab a saw (and worrying my toddler getting the saw) that I probably cut some that were too big for a clean cut with the Felcos...
I also have to admit that I really didn't know what I was doing when I coppiced them. I was harvesting them for wattle fences and cut them about a foot from the ground. You might have better luck with coppicing them that I did!
Pretty sure that the red alder won't outcompete the conifers. Most native conifers like growing up with alders around them, as that's kind of the natural progression. Douglas firs might not do as well, as they need a bit more sun than hemlocks and cedars (I have Western Red Cedar and Western Hemlock growing amongst my alder groves). What conifers are you growing?
William Bronson wrote: Not specific to this tree, but whar about pollarding instead of coppicing?
I have some box elder and mulberry I do this too and they seem to thrive.
The mulberry produces more and more useful wood.
I like that the trunk remains,getting thicker over time,handy as plant or fence support.
Phil Stevens wrote:Daron, have you tried propagating ceanothus? If you can get some seed, soaking them in smoke water might break dormancy. This works for several fire-dependent species. I might give this a go with the quench water from my kontiki kiln.
1. Can it handle the summer droughts down here.
2. How fast does it grow.
3. Can it be coppiced.
4. Does it spread and how does it grow in general in the lowlands.
Sitka Alder also grows in disturbed ground on the North Coast of B.C (I grew up in the Skeena watershed of the Coast Mountains)., but is generally confined to slide zones; all other disturbed locals are dominated by Red Alder rather than Sitka Alder. This far in the interior, where I presently live, there are no red alder.
a specific population of Sitka Alder they found growing at ~200ft elevation in the Columbia River Gorge.
When I lived on Haida Gwaii (previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands), I did see red alder growing in heavily shaded old growth cedar/hemlock/spruce forests. In this case, I think it is likely that the seeds germinated after one of the larger specimines tipped over, which not only exposed bare soil at the root mass but also opened up sunlight temporarily. Over a relatively short time the over arching canopy from the dominant species closes the main sun out again, but not before the alder gets going. In the end, the alder tends to be a shrub with an apple tree-like shape, not the 50-foot tall tree that it can become in the open. It is indeed true that Sitka Alder is more likely to grow in the shade than red alder, but it is probably truer to indicate that all alders tend to enjoy/prefer growing in open-ground, and that shade tolerance exists more so with the Sitka variety. Just trying to clarify what's rattling around in my head from observations over the years.
Apparently it also has moderate shade tolerance unlike Alnus rubra.