As with the Smooth Alder this plant usually grows as a shrub, but sometimes reaches tree size. The bark is gray and smooth. When young the twigs are grayish brown and slightly hairy. This species is more northern than the Smooth Alder. It is found in northeastern parts of the United States and the Great Lakes region, and in much of Canada. In Ohio it occurs in the northeastern counties, in a few localities in the Toledo area, and in a few isolated areas. As with other alders this species grows in moist soils, usually forming clumps or thickets. Large birds such as grouse feed on this plant's buds, and some of the larger mammals (deer, rabbits, muskrats) feed on its twigs.