Friday, 8 January 2016

Tree ID 1: Catkins on hazel and alder


You are probably familiar with hazel catkins.  They seem to be a bit early this year.


You can usually tell a hazel bush because it has a lot of stems all springing from ground level.  It's a shrub rather than a tree.


But spring also brings out long catkins on alder trees.  See below.


How to tell the difference?

Alders not only carry catkins, the male flowers, but also frequently still have last year's seed-bearing conelets.  They look a bit like very small pine cones hanging in bunches.


These catkins and conelets are on a Grey Alder (Alnus incana) in the Tesco car park, blooming in the sun last Tuesday.


We also have several Italian Alders (Alnus cordata) around Thornbury.  They have much bigger conelets.


But in Filnore Woods we have the native Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa), which grows tall and straight and thrives in wet ground and alongside streams and rivers.  The picture below is a common alder near post 20 and the white tool shed.


You can often detect from a distance the location of a stream, by recognising the distinctive shape of common alder trees growing all along the banks.

THIS IS THE FIRST OF A SHORT SERIES OF BLOGS ON INDENTIFYING COMMON TREES IN WINTER


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