The Hazel Alder shrub is one that can be easily recognized by its squat and thickly textured shape. It has dark green, toothed leaves that have deep and easy to see parallel veins. The fruit ripen in late fall, and they are easy to spot because they look like tiny pine-cones. These shrubs are well known for being the first to flower in most regions, announcing spring before any other plants do. The hazel alder shrub is native to the Northeast and grows best in stream margins and wetlands, and it can grow very quickly in acidic soil. One of the most interesting things that this plant is able to do is to harness nitrogen from the soil and retain it. This means that it can grow in less fertile soil, because it makes the most out of the bit of nitrogen available. It requires moderate shade, though, and loves moist grounds. It is important to note, however, that it is susceptible to wind and ice damage, so it requires extra care in colder climates. This plant can reach a height of 8 to 12 feet when it is mature, which takes about ten years. When it comes to its seed capabilities, this plant can produce up to 400,000 seeds per pound. Hazel alder is one of the most commonly used shrubs in wetlands to restore patchy areas, and to provide stability to streambanks. Although they reach maturity in ten years, these shrubs do grow quickly, which makes them perfect for bare areas where you want a bit of green. They are also a good choice for butterfly gardens because lots of butterfly species use the leaves for food for their larvae. They make excellent hedges, too, since their branches are densely packed, offering cover and protection from prying eyes.