(26) Alder

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  • Species
    • Alder
  • Botanical Name
    • Alnus glutinosa
  • Location
    • On the riverbank - go through the gate at the Splash into the field.
    • Grid Reference: TQ 14812, 57143
    • Latitude, Longitude: 51.301841, -0.35446826
    • What3Words: image.things,poetic
  • Identification
    • The leaves are dark green and racquet-shaped with a rounded notch rather than a point at the tip. During the winter, short purple male catkins hang on the tree in bunches of 2-3. In spring they are more colourful as the yellow anthers emerge. The female catkins are small and cone-like, reddish-purple in spring, turning green. They remain on the tree until the following spring by which time they have turned brown. You can see the old "cones" from last year along with the new male and female cones from the current year during springtime.
  • About this species
    • Alders typically grow along river banks. Like the pea family, they have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria that live in the nodules of the roots. In exchange for sugars, the bacteria fix nitrogen that enables the tree to grow in waterlogged, infertile ground. Alder timber does not rot and was used to construct flood gates. The city of Venice is built on alder piles.
    • During the winter, alder seeds are a favourite food for visiting and resident Siskins and Lesser Redpolls.
  • Local information
    • This alder is helping to protect the riverbank from erosion and also provides shelter for riverside wildlife. Alder wood makes excellent charcoal which burns at a high temperature. It was used in the manufacture of gunpowder and to smelt iron - both of these were historically local industries. Workers in the gunpowder works would wear clogs made of alder rather than hob-nailed boots to reduce the risk of kicking up a spark.

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