Red Alder Tree Symbolism Facts & Meaning: Zodiac, Superstitions, Dreams, and Myths
Red Alder Tree Facts
Red Alder Trees are deciduous trees with broad leaves belonging to the birch tree family, also known as Betulaceae. The Red Alder Tree has many names including Alnus Rubra, Oregon Alder, Western Alder, and Pacific Coast Alder. They are native to the Western coasts of North America with their habitat ranging from Alaska to California. It got its scientific name, Alnus Rubra, from the red color of its underbark, visible when bruised or cut.
Red Alders are one of the tallest Alders species. The trunks can span 25-50 centimeters in diameter and the trees can reach heights up to 20-30 meters tall with the tallest Red Alder on record reaching 32 meters tall found in Clatsop County, Oregon.
These trees have ashy-grey color barks which are often confused with Paper Birch trees. Young Red Alders start with a greenish bark and develop into their ashy-grey color as they age. Moss and lichen are commonly seen on older trees. Red Alders can be distinguished from other Alder species by their leaves which are toothed with curled under the edges and points at the ends.
Red Alders can live up to 100 years old but rarely past that. It propagates by spreading its seeds from its small-scaled cone-shaped fruits. The Red Alder’s flowers bloom from March to April.
Red Alders are tolerant to poorly conditioned soils but thrive in moist cool environments like floodplains and streambanks. Red Alders spread seeds prolifically and grow at a rapid pace. They are commonly the first to occupy space in areas where vegetation is disturbed.
Red Alder Tree Uses
Native Americans use the pigment from Red Alder Trees as dyes. Coastal tribes used the red-yellow color dye for fishing nets to make the nets invisible to fish underwater. The dye was also used on hair, skin, baskets, wool, and feathers.
Red Alder Trees have many medicinal uses first used by Native Americans from the Pacific North West. The bark was used to treat skin irritations, insect bites, and reactions from poison oak. The Black Feet Indians used the bark of Red Alders in an infusion to treat tuberculosis and lymphatic disorders.
Recent studies show evidence of the Red Alder Tree containing compounds called betulin and lupeol which are effective in fighting against different kinds of tumors. Red Alder Trees are shown to also contain salicin, extracted to make aspirins.
Parts of the Red Alder have also been used in food. Its inner bark is ground into a powder and is used as a thickening ingredient in recipes like soup. The powder from the bark of the Red Alder is also combined with cereal to bake bread. The sap of the tree is also used as a sweetener for various foods.
The wood of the Red Alder burns long and low in pitch, ideal for smoking salmon and other meats.
The wood of Red Alder Trees has been traditionally used by Native Americans in their woodwork, crafting bowls, utensils, masks, and other wood items. Red Alder wood is popular amongst people who construct musical instruments for its ideal balanced tonality. It is also a popular alternative to more expensive hardwoods in the market despite being softer wood.
Red Alder Trees are a great use to their environment. The roots of these trees host nitrogen-fixing bacterias that help re-fertilize low-nitrogen soils. This makes them great trees for reforestation or introductory trees in disturbed sites.
Wildlife greatly benefits from Red Alder Trees. Beavers commonly use the trees to build their dams, whereas finches eat the seeds, and deers and elk eat leaves of young Alder Trees.
Red Alder Tree History
Red Alder Trees are believed to have arrived at the shores of Western North America around 8000 BC and quickly thrived in their new environment. They are great pioneer trees and can stabilize the soil where they grow.
Native Americans on the west coast have historically used parts of the Red Alder for traditional medicine and woodwork. Red Alder wood has been the traditional fuel for smoking salmon. British explorers introduced the Red Alder species back to Britain in the 1800s.
Red Alder Tree Positive Symbolism
Red Alder Trees are positive symbols of courage, strength, and confidence. The Alder Tree’s usefulness to its environment and to humans as firewood gave it the symbolism of rebirth.
Alders are also associated with balance and healing because of their ability to bring new life to infertile soil. Because Alder Trees flower both male and female blooms, it became a symbol of balance between the two genders.
Red Alder Tree Negative Symbolism
Red Alder Trees have the negative symbolism of death and mourning. This negative symbolism is mainly seen amongst Christians as Alder Trees are often seen growing near grave sites.
Red Alder Tree Cultural Symbolism
Native Americans view Red Alders as a symbol of healing because of their uses in traditional medicine.
The Celts view Alder Trees as symbols of the underworld. Similarly, Christians also associated Alder Trees with death along with protection, renewal, and spiritual connection.
In Irish paganism, Alder Trees are one of the seven holy trees used in rituals and ceremonies.
Red Alder Tree Zodiac Sign
In Celtic Astrology, an ancient Druid belief system, the Alder Tree represents the period between March 18 to April 14. People born under the sign of the Alder Tree are tenacious independent adventurers but may have bad tempers and can rush into conflict.
Red Alder Tree in Dreams
Dreaming of Red Alder Trees can symbolize different things depending on the dreamer’s circumstances. In general, Red Alder Trees in dreams can indicate a transition taking place, healing, war, harmony, controlling strong emotions, and obtaining the ability to deal with the pressures of the environment.
Red Alder Tree Omens and Superstitions
In superstitions, it is bad luck to build houses near Red Alder Trees as it is believed to easily catch fire. There is also a belief that witches use flutes made from the wood of Red Alder to summon the north wind.
Red Alder Tree Mythology and Folklore
Alder Trees as a whole are greatly surrounded by myth. In Celtic Mythology, the Celt deity Bran is greatly associated with the Alder Tree.
In Irish mythology, when Deidre of the Sorrows and Naoise eloped, they hid in an Alder forest to escape the wrath of King Conchobhar, Deidre’s betrothed. There are many more Irish tales that depict faeries making the Alder Tree their home.