Alnus cordata (Italian alder) is a tree or shrub species belonging to the family of Betulaceaeand native to southern Apennine Mountains (Campania, Basilicata and Calabria, mainly on western mountain sides) and north-eastern mountains of Corsica. It has been introduced in Sicily and Sardinia and more recently in Central-North Italy, other European countries (France, Belgium, Spain, Azores, United Kingdom) and extra-European countries (Chile, New Zealand), where it has become naturalised.
The slender cylindrical male catkins are pendulous, reddish and up to 10 cm long; pollination is in early spring, before the leaves emerge. The female catkins are ovoid, when mature in autumn 2–3 cm long and 1.5–2 cm broad, dark green to brown, hard, woody, and superficially similar to some conifer cones. The small winged seeds disperse through the winter, leaving the old woody, blackish ‘cones’ on the tree for up to a year after.