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A deciduous tree up to 50 ft high; young shoots glabrous; winter buds stalked, glutinous. Leaves ovate to oval, coarsely and irregularly toothed; rounded, broadly wedge-shaped, or slightly heart-shaped at the base; 21⁄2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 21⁄2 in. wide; glossy green above and glabrous on both sides except for tufts of down in the vein-axils beneath; stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, slender. Male catkins glutinous when young, usually three to five in a cluster. Fruits egg-shaped, 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. wide, borne often in threes, sometimes solitary or in pairs.
Native of Syria, Cyprus, Cilicia, etc., on river banks; introduced from Cyprus to Kew in 1924, where a tree grew well, reaching a height of 45 ft and a girth of 31⁄2 ft before it died some years ago. It is rarely to be seen in cultivation, but there is a good specimen in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden, 40 × 51⁄2 ft (1968). Another grows in the Glasnevin Botanic Garden, Dublin, which measures 44 × 31⁄2 ft (1966). It belongs to a handsome group of alders comprising subcordata and cordata, all with large fruits and large bright green, almost glabrous leaves. Botanists distinguish it from these by the absence of a wing to the seed. A. cordata has rounder, distinctly heart-shaped leaves, whilst those of subcordata are downy, especially along the midrib and chief veins beneath.
specimens: Speech House, Glos., pl. 1932, 59 × 31⁄4 ft (1983); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, 42 × 61⁄2 ft (1972).