Alder, Common

[[Category:Deciduous Trees]]
[[Category:Betulaceae]]
[[Category:Alnus]]

[[File:Alnus_glutinosa_011.jpg|[[commons:Alnus glutinosa|Alnus Glutinosa]]|right|200px]]

”’Scientific Name”’: ”Alnus glutinosa”

”’Family”’: ”Betulaceae”

”’Also know as”’: black alder, european alder

”’Habitat”’: Damp ground, including particularly wet “Alder carrs”. Alders are often found on river banks, with roots directly in the water. it thrives in damp, cool areas such as marshes, wet woodland and streams where its roots help to prevent soil erosion.

It can also grow in drier locations and sometimes occurs in mixed woodland and on forest edges. It grows well from seed and will quickly colonise bare ground. Because of its association with the nitrogen-fixing bacterium ”Frankia alni”, it can grow in nutrient-poor soils where few other trees thrive. [[commons:Alnus glutinosa#Natural habitats|Alder habitats images]]

Alders are native to all of continental Europe and the UK, apart from the extreme North and South. It can also be found in Turkey, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. It has been introduced to Canada, United States, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.

Of the thirty species in the genus ”Alnus”, common alder is the only member native to the UK. [[commons:Alnus glutinosa#Native distribution areas|Alder distribution map]]

”’Description”’: Alder is an upright, straight-trunked tree. Spire shaped when young, broadening with age, it can live up to 60 years and can grow to 30 meters. Young trees have an upright habit of growth with a main axial stem but older trees develop an arched crown with crooked branches. The base of the trunk produces adventitious roots which grow down to the soil and may appear to be propping the trunk up.

The bark is deeply fissured and can be covered in lichen; The bark of young trees is smooth, glossy and greenish-brown. The branches are smooth and somewhat sticky, being scattered with resinous warts. [[commons:Alnus glutinosa#Bark|Alder bark images]]

Twigs have a light brown spotted stem which turns red towards the top. Young twigs are sticky to touch.

The leaves of the common alder are short-stalked, rounded, up to 10 cm (4 in) long with a slightly wedge-shaped base and a wavy, serrated margin. They have a glossy dark green upper surface and paler green underside with rusty-brown hairs in the angles of the veins. As with some other trees growing near water, the common alder keeps its leaves longer than do trees in drier situations, and the leaves remain green late into the autumn. As the Latin name glutinosa implies, the buds and young leaves are sticky with a resinous gum. [[commons:Alnus glutinosa#Leaves & Buds|Alder leaves and buds images]]

Purple or grey leaf buds form on long stems and the 3–9cm long dark green leaves are racquet-shaped and leathery, with serrated edges. The leaf tip is never pointed and is often indented.

Mauve catkins and buds give the tree a “purple haze” look in winter. [[commons:Alnus glutinosa#Inflorescences|Alder catkins images]]

Between February and April, male catkins are formed in bunches of two to three, and female catkins form in bunches of three to eight which eventually form green cone-like fruit. The fruit can persist into the next year in the form of small woody cones. The cones open up to release seeds which are dispersed by wind and water. The seeds are flattened reddish-brown nuts edged with webbing filled with pockets of air. This enables them to float for about a month which allows the seed to disperse widely. The male catkins extend in spring to expose their yellow anthers. [[commons:Alnus glutinosa#Infructescences & Seeds|Alder cones and seeds images]]

”’Identifying Features”’:
* ”’Bark”’ – Starting smooth but soon becoming scaly with vertically-aligned plates, sometimes showing pale orange in the cracks.
* ”’Twigs”’ – Covered in small glands when young.
* ”’Buds”’ – On stalks, curved, 7mm, mauve-grey coloured with two scales that are also scaly.

==Pictures throughout the year==

File:AlderCatkinsFeb.jpg|”[[commons:Alnus glutinosa|Alnus Glutinosa]]” (Alder)
File:Alder_August(1)C.jpg|Riverside Alder in February|alt=alt language
File:|Alder Tree and Catkins in February|alt=alt language

==Uses==
===Food===
None known.

===Medicine===
In a research study, an extract of the seeds has been shown to effective in combatting antibiotic resistant bacteria, including MRSA.
A decoction of the bark has been used to treat swelling, inflammation and rheumatism, as an emetic, and to treat pharyngitis and sore throat.

The bark is alterative, astringent, cathartic, febrifuge and tonic. The fresh bark will cause vomiting, so use dried bark for all but emetic purposes. A decoction of the dried bark is used to bathe swellings and inflammations, especially of the mouth and throat. The powdered bark and the leaves have been used as an internal astringent and tonic, whilst the bark has also been used as an internal and external haemostatic against haemorrhage. The dried bark of young twigs are used, or the inner bark of branches 2 – 3 years old. It is harvested in the spring and dried for later use. Boiling the inner bark in vinegar produces a useful wash to treat lice and a range of skin problems such as scabies and scabs. The liquid can also be used as a toothwash. The leaves are astringent, galactogogue and vermifuge. They are used to help reduce breast engorgement in nursing mothers. A decoction of the leaves is used in folk remedies for treating cancer of the breast, duodenum, oesophagus, face, pylorus, pancreas, rectum, throat, tongue, and uterus. The leaves are harvested in the summer and used fresh.

===Other===
The bark can be used in tanning and dying (from brown through to yellow) and can be used for smoking food.

The leaves are sticky and can be used on floors to trap pests like fleas and mites.
Apparently, a leaf infusion makes a refreshing foot bath.

Makes good charcoal and can tolerate being submerged well.

==Gav Notes==
===Known hazards===
None known.

===Harvesting===
The bark is usually harvested in the spring and dried for later use.
The leaves are harvested in the summer and used fresh.

===Potential lookalikes===
The rounded leaf shapes are similar to hazel, however hazel leaves are softly hairy compared to the shiny ones of alder.

===Other==

”’Sources”’:
*PFAF: https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alnus+glutinosa
*Tree & Plant ID Course from Foundation Bushcraft – http://identificationmasterclass.com/
*Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_glutinosa
*Woodland Trust – https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/native-trees/alder/

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