Alnus Rubra. Tag Alder.
Nat. Ord. — Betulaceae. Sex. Syst. — Monoecia Tetrandria.
Description. — This plant is the Alnus Serrulata of Aiton and Willdenow, and is known by the names of Smooth Alder, and Common Alder. It is a well-known shrub growing in clumps, and forming thickets on the borders of ponds and rivers, and in swamps. The stems are numerous, rather straight, and from six to fifteen feet in hight. The leaves are obovate, acuminate, doubly serrulate with minute teeth, thickish, smooth and green on both sides, strongly veined, the veins and their axils being hairy beneath, from two to four inches long, by two-thirds as wide, and on petioles one-half or one-third of an inch long. The stipules are elliptical and obtuse. Aments two or three inches long, slender, pendulous, fascicled at the ends of the branches ; fertile aments short, thick, dark-brown, persistent, ovoid-oblong, several together a little below the sterile one. Stamens four. Fruit ovate.
History. — This shrub blossoms in March and April, bearing flowers of a reddish-green color. The bark is the part used and imparts its properties to boiling water.
Properties and Uses. — Tag Alder Bark is alterative, emetic, and astringent. A decoction or extract of it is useful in scrofula, secondary syphilis, and several forms of cutaneous disease. The inner bark of the root is emetic ; and a decoction of the cones is said to be astringent, and useful in hematuria, and other hemorrhages. An excellent ophthalmic powder is made by boring a hole from half an inch to an inch in diameter, lengthwise, through a stout piece of a limb of tag alder. Fill the opening with finely-powdered salt, and close it at each end. Put it into hot ashes, and let it remain till the tag is almost all charred, (three or four days,) then split it open, take out the salt, powder, and keep it in a vial. To use it, blow some of the powder in the eye, through a quill. An article named Alnuine is said to have been obtained from this plant, which possesses alterative, tonic, and astringent properties, and is recommended in herpes, syphilis, scorbutus, scrofula, impetigo, etc., in doses of one to three grains, three or four times a day. Likewise an essential agent, Alnuin, for the same purpose. We have not been advised of the manner in which these agents are prepared, and therefore can say but little concerning them.
Off. Prep. — Decoctum Alnus. Infusum Alnus.