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Alnus Cordata commonly named the Italian Elder, is a remarkably tough deciduous tree with long-lasting foliage. Versatile and attractive, this elder variety can be used in mixed borders or as a specimen tree or as a screening tree when planted in row. These trees are sold in a multi-stem tree form and as a root ball which offers you the best value for money as root balls are the best option for mass planting, particularly when using trees for lining avenues or walkways.
The lush foliage that adorns the rounded crown emerges in the spring. The heart-shaped leaves are smallish, dark green and lustrous to give a glistening effect. Unlike many deciduous trees, Italian Elder often keeps its foliage until December. In late winter to early spring, female catkins appear on the bare branches. Russet coloured and exceptionally long, they are particularly loved by birds. The catkins mature and harden into brown, cone-like fruit.
Extremely adaptable, this elegant tree is noted for its ability to survive in particularly poor and waterlogged soils, which is why it is often used in land reclamation. Even though this tree will grow virtually in any soil, for best results, plant it in a sunny spot in the garden, as it does not tolerate shaded areas. A good choice for city gardens, as it is not bothered by urban pollution.
Native to South Italy, Alnus Cordata prefers milder climates, but it can be successfully grown in areas where temperatures drop to 20 degrees below zero. This cultivar is fully hardy in the United Kingdom, and it will not need any protection from frost or cold winds. In fact Alnus Cordata does not mind strong winds and is often planted as a windbreak in coastal gardens. With its good constitution, reliable performance and decorative looks, Italian Alder earned the Award of Garden Merit by Royal Horticultural Society and it has been successfully grown in Britain since its introduction in 1820.
Considered medium sized, Italian Elder can grow to be over 12 metres high, with a maximum spread of 4 to 8 metres. Its habit is columnar, with a rich, rounded crown. Maintaining this tree in optimal form is easy, as it only needs a periodic removal of dead or damaged branches. Rarely affected by any serious pests and diseases.
Tolerant of a wide range of conditions, Alnus Cordata is a versatile tree that has many uses in the garden. Grow it on its own as a specimen tree for year-round interest, or from shade where its dense crown will provide shade throughout the seasons. When planted en masse, this deciduous tree is an excellent choice for screening or windbreak.