Hainault Forest Website

Tree identification

Common Alder Alnus glutinosa  & Grey Alder A. incana

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Common alder twig showing female cones developing above catkins. Note the club shaped, stalked buds with a mauve bloom.

Simple pinnate leaf of Common alder. The leaf tip may be blunt  or indented.

GREY ALDER Alnus incana

Planted near the lake. Tip of leaf  pointed.

Male catkins of Common alder. The female flowers which will develop into cones are reddish-brown and just above the catkins.

Photo: March 23 2005.

Old persisting cones of Common alder

 

COMMON ALDER Alnus glutinosa

 

The Common Alder thrives in waterlogged soils or by river banks such as along the River Roding at Passingford Bridge, Essex. Those in Hainault Forest are poor specimens. There is a small group near the Romford Road, where the lake outfall reaches the road, and another group in the yard of the Rare Breed farm opposite the pig enclosure. They can be recognised by the black fruit or 'cones' which persist throughout the winter, releasing the seed in the spring when they are a favourite with seed eating birds such as the Goldfinch. The 'cones' may continue to hang on the tree. Although referred to as cones the seed case is only superficially like the conifer cone. The male and female catkins are present on the tree the previous summer, but fully develop in February or March. The male catkins producing masses of pollen which is carried in the wind. There are a couple of small, recently planted, Grey Alder tree A. incana  at both ends of the lake.