Friday, 1 March 2013


Belonging to the same family as the Birch trees, the Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is familiar to most of us as a tree of wet and boggy places.  Like the Hazel which I mentioned a few days ago, the Alder reproduces by means of long male catkins and small, red female flowers.  The catkins are by far the most prominent feature at this time of year.
Dangling at the end of the branches, these catkins reach about 6 inches long and close inspection reveals a collage of colours, yellows, greens and reds all make them look rather spectacular.  The female flowers are borne in small clusters a little further back along the twig from the catkins and are, like the Hazel, small, red and very un-flower like.
Eventually, these female flowers will form the small, hard, brown 'cones' which contain the seeds which Goldfinches and Siskins seem to like so much.
Alder wood is resistant to decay in water and as such, has been used in antiquity to make water pipes, boats and a whole range of other 'water-based' uses.  The branches also used to be cut off and stored in people's wardrobes as it is irresistible to woodworm and so used to lure them away from your best mahogany furniture.
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