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Alnus glutinosaAlder

By Leanne Downs9 September 2019

Alder or Alnus glutinosa is a tree native to the UK, which can be found across most of Europe.There are many other varieties but this particular species is the only one native to the UK. Alders are members of the same family as Birch but have many special characteristics.

Where to find Alder

Although they can grow in drier areas, they prefer to grow in damp areas and close to water. They can often be found near ponds, rivers and streams or on marshland.

How to identify Alder

Alder trees can be fairly easily identified due to their cone-like fruits, as they are the only native deciduous tree that has cones. They stay on the trees all-year round. Its leaves are dark green, serrated and rounded, somewhat resembling the shape of an egg with no point at the tip. When young they are slightly sticky but become leathery with age.

Female catkins are globular and turn into cones, male catkins are elongated and do not turn into cones.

Uses for Alder

Alder wood has the ability to withstand rotting underwater, which means that it has long been used to make things such as boats. One particularly fascinating fact about Alder relates to the Italian city of Venice, where alder trunks were used under the foundations of many of the buildings for their durability under water. Alder is also good for making charcoal and gunpowder.

Alder cones have water conditioning properties. They lower the pH of the water and have an anti-fungal effect, making them popular for use in fish tanks.

This tree is particularly good are improving the soil where they grow, as they fix nitrogen. This means they are often planted on former brownfield sites.

Leanne Downs

About Leanne Downs

Leanne Downs is the content editor for Thryve and works as an outdoor writer, blogger and photographer. She loves hiking, hillwalking and wild camping.

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