Alder Pollen Report

Picture of Alder catkinsJune 2, 2018.

Recently, I was approached by a company looking for wild tree pollen to incorporate into products which would expose babies born in sterile hospital environments to natural substances. This is to reduce their allergy load during life. So I was looking for an opportunity to harvest alder catkins.

Sam and I just harvested catkins from Sitka alder (Alnus sinuata) on May 29 when we were high in the mountains looking for late stands of Arnica cordifolia flowers. We were about 5,000 feet elevation on the east side of the North Cascades. The alder were in bloom at our turn-around spot, not far below melting snow line.  About half of the shrubs were too far along for optimum pollen harvest. ¼ were at the optimum stage and ½ were suboptimal, not ripe enough to shed pollen during drying.  There is probably 7 to 10 days of harvest period at this site.  Sites further down the mountain were optimal earlier and higher elevation stands will be optimal later. 

The two of us harvested 15 pounds of fresh catkins in one hour. 7.5# an hour. 

After drying we ended up with 11.5 oz of pollen and 40 ounces (2.5 pounds) of catkins.  This is a dry down rate of fresh to dry of slightly more than 5 to 1.  Since I picked too many catkins at the too early stage, I would estimate 20 # of fresh catkins at the right stage yields 1 # of pollen.  This is about 2.5 picking hours. Plus there is getting to the stand and back, drying, etc. If we had a big order the travel costs would be spread among a bigger number. 

Two people working hard for 7 hours in good stands could pick about 100 pounds of catkins. This would yield 5 # of pollen.  I would charge $160 a pound. Which is $10 an ounce.  Retail I would sell alder pollen for $15 to $20 an ounce.

If I sold the dry catkins with pollen it would be $50#.

I just googled  the pollen market and here are a few items that came up.

Fennel pollen $26.95 oz.

Dill pollen  $16 oz ($256#)

Pine pollen, SurThrival 8 oz. $77.

$6.41 for 2 ounces of pine pollen from Piping Rock Health Products . $51.28 a pound.  Cracked cell wall of Pinus Massoniana, [Chinese Red Pine, which means the source is from south China The species is a common trees in plantation forestry for replacing or compensating of the loss of the natural forest in southern China]

Great article by Shelby G. Jones, consulting forester. 2003. Here are a few quotes.

Hidden $$$ in your forest: Pollen provides profit

“Tree pollen can cause allergies, but who would think that it has any value? Well, for the few landowners who take an interest in it, pollen can have you sneezing all the way to the bank!

Plant pollen should not be confused with bee pollen and its health food aspects. Tree, shrub, grass and weed pollens can be collected. They are used mainly for production of allergenic medicines and allergy testing. There are only a few processors of tree pollen in the United States and most are associated with large pharmaceutical companies. These companies collect pollen with their own staffs operating under the guidance of a professional botanist. They also purchase raw material (pollen) from a relatively small number of trained collectors located throughout the country. These pollen collectors harvest flowering structures from trees and shrubs on their own land as well as other private land owners. The pollen collectors pay private forest landowners a percentage of the value of flowers harvested, offering the fortunate landowner an opportunity for annual income.

Collectors normally receive in the range of $5 to $40 per pound of dried flowers.”


Tree species from which pollen extracts are manufactured

Common Name

Scientific Name(s)


Acacia spp.


Alnus rhombifolia/rubra/velutina


Fraxinus americana/pennsylvanica/velutina


Populus tremuloides


Fagus grandifolia


Casuarina equisetifolia


Betula fontinalis/lenta/nigra


Callistemon citrinus


Acer negundo

Cedar, Mtn.

Juniperus sabinoides

Cedar, Red

Juniperus virginiana

Cedar, Salt

Tamarix gallica


Populus trichocarpa/deltoides/fremonti


Arizona Cupressus arizonica


Ulmus americana/pumila


Eucalyptus spp.


Celtis occidentalis


Corylus americana


Carya ovata/illinoensis/tomentosa


Juniperus californica/scopulorum/osteosperma/occidentalis


Acer macrophyllum/rubrum/saccharum/saccharinum


Melaleuca leucadendron


Prosopis juliflora


Morus alba/rubra


Quercus agrifolia/alba/dumosa/gambelii/rubra/velutina


European Olea europaea

Palm, Date

Phoenix dactylifera

Palo Verde

Cercidium torreyana


Carya pecan


Tree Schinus molle


Pinus echinata/ponderosa/strobus


Poplar alba/deltoides/nigra


Ligustrum vulgare

Russian Olive

Elaeagnus angustifolia


Liquidambar styraciflua


Platanus occidentalis/racemosa

Tree of Heaven

Ailanthus altissima


Juglans californica/nigra/regia


Salix discolor/lasiolepis/nigra









MICHAEL “SKEETER” PILARSKI is a life-long student of plants and earth repair. His farming career started in 2nd grade and his organic farming career began in 1972 at age 25. Michael founded Friends of the Trees Society in 1978 and took his first permaculture design course in 1982. Since 1988 he has taught 36 permaculture design courses in the US and abroad. His specialties include earth repair, agriculture, seed collecting, nursery sales, tree planting, fruit picking, permaculture, agroforestry, forestry, ethnobotany, medicinal herb growing, hoeing and wildcrafting. He has hands-on experience with over 1000 species of plants. He is a prolific gathering organizer and likes group singing.