Alnus glutinosa (Alder)
Other Names: Common Alder, Black Alder, European Alder, Aller
Description: This medium sized tree is common on wet ground, near rivers, ditches and lakes and can be known to invade open wet habitats. The tree is easily spotted in winter as it has a distinct purplish hue and holds small cones which can be seen from a distance. Has attractive male and female catkins which can be seen in winter and blunt, rounded leaves. The tree is roughly conical in shape.
Uses: Alder wood is very good at resisting rot, so long as it is kept wet. Traditionally this made it very useful for sluice gates, boats and even water pipes. In modern times Alder is mainly used for pulp and plywood. Alder coppices well and is often cut to make charcoal.
Conservation Value: Alder leaves are a food source for the caterpillars of several species of moth including the Alder Kitten, the Autumnal and the Pebble hook-tip. The Catkins, showing early in the year, provide a much-needed nectar source for bees and the seeds are eaten by several birds including the Goldfinch and Siskin. Alder woodlands provide excellent conditions for several species of moss and lichens and the roots of the Alder are well knows as ideal locations for Otter holts.
Preferred Locations: Another tolerant being able to cope with clay, sand, chalk or loam soils but certainly prefers damp and poorly drained locations and riparian habitats.
Size: Generally not exceeding 12m with only 4-6m wide canopy spread.
Time to reach full height: 10 to 20 years.
Lifespan: 60 years.