The Pacific Northwest's most abundant hardwood
Just as a connoisseur of Eastern ham insists that it be smoked only with hickory, the salmon fisherman of the Pacific Northwest demands his fish be cooked over alder coals. That's entirely fitting to this tree that prefers living close to water.
As the most abundant hardwood species of the region, red alder has for a century been the seafood industry's choice for smoking fish. And loggers who daily fell the mighty Douglas fir prefer the heat of a winter fire fueled by red alder. Until recent years, these were the wood's primary commercial uses in a land ruled by lumber-producing conifers.
In fact, red alder was pretty much dismissed for production because, like a weed, the species popped up in clearings where other trees were felled. Burnt-over tracts also were quickly covered by young alder stands, often threatening more commercially important softwood seedlings. Today, loggers look to the red alder to supply a growing market along the West Coast, in Asia, and in Europe for furniture wood.