A fast-growing shrub that grows well on poorer soils. In many areas, it is a highly characteristic colonist of avalanche chutes in mountains, where potentially competing larger trees are killed by regular avalanche damage. A. viridis survives the avalanches through its ability to re-grow from the roots and broken stumps. Unlike some other alders, it does require moist soil, and is a colonist of screes and shallow stony slopes. It also commonly grows on subarctic river gravels, particularly in northern Siberia, Alaska and Canada, occupying areas similarly disrupted by ice floes during spring river ice breakup; in this habitat it commonly occurs mixed with shrubby willows.