Common Alder Identification
The Common Alder Alnus glutinosa is native to Britain, Europe, western Asia and north Africa. It grows naturally in damp areas such as river banks and beside lakes but it is now planted in many urban areas. Like all Alders it can add nitrogen to the soil and so is frequently used on reclamation sites. The tree can be confused with two other Alders, the Grey Alder and the Italian Alder, both of which are planted in urban areas. Common Alder identification is by its notched leaf, its male catkins and its female cone-like catkins which are intermediate in size between the other two. To learn more about the Italian Alder click HERE
Alders have male and female flowers on the same tree. The flowers have no petals, they take the form of catkins. Male catkins are formed in spring, grow upright through the summer and then hang down through the winter until they shed pollen in February/March. Female flowers are pollinated in February/March, grow into round green cone-like catkins in the summer and turn brown and shed seeds in autumn and winter. Female catkins stay on the tree through the winter and the following summer.
A group of Common Alders by a lake, in August.
This is the typical leaf shape, round with a notch at the end.
New male catkins in October. They will release pollen in the following February.