I had a fantastic book for Christmas from my sister , Around the World in 80 Trees. It is a lovely book with super information and lovely illustrations.
Today it came in very useful, I was thinking about the Alder trees I had noticed out walking today . The catkins were short and stocky , very tough compared to the hazel catkins I saw yesterday.
The Christmas book came up trumps with some great facts about Alders:
- They love water, the ones I saw today were growing on the lake bank.
- They have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria that live in modules which can be as big as apples in their roots.
- These bacteria help the tree survive in often waterlogged and infertile soil.
- Alder wood can survive in tack underwater for 100s of years, Venetians used alder piles as foundations for stone buildings.They are still there 700 years later.
- Gunpowder made with Alder charcoal could shoot cannonballs further and faster.
- Alder is monoecious, which means that both male and female flowers are found on the same tree.
- Male catkins are yellow and pendulous about 2-6cm long
- Fruits: once pollinated by wind, the female catkins gradually become woody and appear as tiny, cone-like fruits in winter.
These were on the tree in large numbers today.
These trees certainly have a story to tell and look fantastic all along the banks.