LATIN NAME: Alnus Glutinosa
COMMON / FOLK NAMES: Alder
SPECIES: Grey Alder (A. incana) and Italian Alder (A. cordata).
MEDICINAL PART: Bark and leaves - contains
tannin, bark-tea was used to cure chills.
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Ireland, Britain and
Temperate Zones in Europe and elsewhere.
HABITAT: Very tolerant of water logged conditions
dormant. Likes to grow beside streams and running water. Can tolerate all
soil types except poor acid peats. Fixes nitrogen via root nodules and will grow
on relatively infertile soils and hence used for site reclamation. Could
be planted with pine trees to counteract excessive nitrogen leaching into soil
from these trees.
DESCRIPTION: The wood is light reddish brown
and has a coarse texture. Rapidly growing tree (0.5m per annum for first 30 - 40
years) mature at about 60 years with long trunk and narrow crown. Distinctive
outline in winter. Requires plenty of light and can be used as pioneer species.
Height 20m or more. Age up to 150 years. The leaves have a distinctive
serrated shape and are broad.
FLOWERING PERIOD: Flowers appear from
February to March, leaves from April, Catkins from October to December, Leaves
start to fall in November.
Grown from seed, they are carried down streams and germinate naturally
when embedded in wet soil. Can be used for reclamation and drainage of
wetlands, grow quickly in the first few years.
Wood - Used to make charcoal for artists, used in gunpowder mixes in charcoal
form, Good for wood-turning crafts, hardwood and pulp can be used. Burns
quickly. Is stronger in water, used for piles and stakes in water-logged
areas. Also produces a red dye, leaves produce a green dye, and bark produces a
you know exactly what you are doing it may not be wise to use the Alder, however
if you are going on a long sea voyage call on Manannan Mac Lír while holding a
small alder twig and ask protection during your journey. Nechtan will
protect you in fresh-water areas, the Cailleach will help you face the physical
effects of old age/debility bravely.
in Ireland the Alder wand was used to measure the dead and was marked with
protective oghams for
this purpose only a druid
could handle it without penalty. This survived into folkloric belief and
it was considered unlucky to handle alder wood up to the early twentieth century
in parts of Ireland. The Alder measuring wand was called a Fe. (The Aspen
wand was also used for funereal measuring and has similar superstitions
used for cursing one's enemies and it was believed that it could bring death