This tree is invasive and should not be planted. Growing 40 to 60 feet tall, black alder is typically tall and narrow but sometimes pyramid-shaped. It can be identified by its large, glossy green, oval to round leaves with a toothed margin; dangling catkins, or long, bushy flowers, in early spring; and egg-shaped nutlets, somewhat resembling cones, in fall. Young leaves and shoots are often sticky from a resin. The seed are dispersed by wind and, if they fall on water, can be spread for long distances.
Tree and plant descriptions
- Alnus glutinosa
- Aronia melanocarpaPlant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Black chokeberry is a dependable small to medium sized shrub with upright, mounded habit. Small clusters of white flowers in spring are followed by glossy black fruit. Dark green foliage turns reddish-purple in the fall.
- Rhodotypos scandensPlant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Whether planted in sun, or heavy shade, the black jetbead will prosper, making it a great shrub for shade sites, as a specimen or border plant. Showy white flowers, crisp green foliage, and black fruit clusters make this shrub distinct throughout the growing season.
- Picea marianaPlant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Black spruce is a small, narrow evergreen tree with a spire-like crown. It has descending branches, with dark, bluish-green needles, and upturned ends. Lower limbs sweep the ground. It is an excellent choice for cold northern climates and tolerant of wet sites.
- Juglans nigraPlant advice from The Morton Arboretum: The black walnut is a Chicago-area native tree that provides excellent shade for large properties. It needs to be sited with care, since the tree produces a chemical that is toxic to some other plants.
- Viburnum prunifoliumPlant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Black-haw is a native viburnum that can be a large shrub or a small tree. It is a multi-season plant, offering white flowers in spring, and fruits and good color in autumn.
- Cornus sanguineaPlant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Blood-twigged dogwood is a medium-sized shrub, popular mainly for its straight stems and branches, which turn a mix of green and red in winter. It has flat-topped fluffy clusters of white flowers, more smelly than fragrant, in late summer, followed by small black fruit.
- Picea pungens (syn. Picea pungens 'Glauca')Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Colorado spruce, also known as blue spruce is a conical-shaped evergreen tree with stiff horizontal branches and short stiff needles. A commonly used tree in Midwest landscapes. In nature the needles are often green, but many specimens produce blue-green needles.
- Caryopteris x clandonensisPlant advice from The Morton Arboretum: This mounded woody plant has cornflower-blue flowers in late summer and fragrant, silvery-green foliage. Though bluebeard is technically a shrub, it should be treated as a perennial in the Midwest because it tends to die back in harsh winters.
- Parthenocissus tricuspidataPlant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Despite its name, Boston ivy is not native to Boston but native to eastern Asia. This deciduous vine is often used to cover brick walls and other hard surfaces of old universities buildings or famous ball fields. Dark green leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall.