A fast-growing, medium-sized native tree found all over Britain, especially in wet places. Very hardy and coping with a wide range of soil types, Alder is particularly useful for preventing soil erosion, and for establishing plantings in waterlogged areas. Young plants are seldom attacked by rabbits or stock, so makes a good choice where this could be a problem.
Site and soil
Alder tolerates a wide range of soils and situations, except very dry conditions. It will grow well on damp hillsides and in boggy, waterlogged sites.
Height and spread
Below are the approximate stages of growth, assuming sited in suitable conditions for this species;
After 10 years: 8m x 2.5m After 20 years: 9m x 3.7m
Leaf and bark
The leaves are ovate, and glossy dark green, and deeply lobed, rather like an oak, and about 5cm long. The bark is a greyish dark brown, cracked into thin rectangular plates.
Flower, seed and fruit
Male catkins of Alder can be seen as a purplish haze among the branches as early as January, opening to a dull yellow in March and April. Female catkins are very short (0.5cm), becoming woody 'cones' over winter which are a useful source of food for native birds.
Coppicing, hedging, specimen tree. Alder wood has the property of withstanding constant wetting and drying out, and for this reason was much used in the past for lock gates, mill wheels and troughs. It has also been used for clog-making and furniture, as well as for smaller items. Both the leaves and the bark were used in dye-making, and the tree has several medicinal uses too.
Alder fruits (false cones) are a useful source of food for birds in spring. The catkins are an early source of pollen and the trees provide shelter on wetland sites.
The main reasons for buying protection is to protect the plants against:
When it comes to deciding what protection to choose the golden rule is to choose the product dependent on which pest you are protecting against. The below will help you in deciding what height of protection you will need.
Vole, Mice 20cm
Roe Deer, Muntjac 1.20m
Fallow Deer 1.50m
Pest & Minimum Protection Height
Protection Type Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.