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A deciduous tree up to 50 or 60 ft high, with a silvery bark tinged with purple and yellow; young shoots thinly downy or glabrous. Leaves ovate to narrowly oval, slender-pointed, mostly tapered (sometimes rounded) at the base, shallowly toothed or almost entire; 3 to 7 in. long, 2 to 4 in. wide; dark glossy green and glabrous above; dull, paler, and loosely downy on the midrib and veins beneath, with tufts of down in the axils of the veins; stalk mostly 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. long; veins in ten to eighteen pairs. Male flowers borne in numerous slender catkins, each 3 to 6 in. long, 3⁄16 in. wide, the whole forming a large, loose, drooping panicle; from ten to some scores of catkins may be borne in one panicle. Fruits egg-shaped or cylindrical, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, as many as ten or twelve packed on a short panicle.
Native of N. India and Yunnan; introduced around the year 1865, although possibly in cultivation before. It is common in the forests of the Temperate Himalaya, and Wilson observes that it is abundant in S.W. Yunnan, often forming pure stands. It has fine foliage, but its chief claim to beauty lies in the panicle of yellowish male flowers, which are borne in catkins not only rather long but often very numerous; they open towards autumn and must make a charming picture. Possibly the tree will be hardy only in the milder counties, but it should be well worth growing there. The bark is used for tanning in India. The only other autumn-flowering alders are A. maritima and A. nitida.