Sunday, December 27, 2009

Common Alder

There are a few plants, such as this Common Alder, Alnus serrulata, that I added to the property before learning of the unique ecosystem I was dealing with here. The alders were planted the year after we bought the property and were obtained through a free shrub program managed by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. According to the wildlife management principles I was taught in school, planting shrubs in the corner of an old crop field was a wonderful thing to do. Now my management plan doesn’t allow the introduction of any plants or seeds from an off site source, even if they are Ohio natives.

Common Alder has a lot of interesting features. Pollen is produced by these long, drooping catkins. This is one of those characteristics that is easily seen any time the shrub is in a leafless condition.

Seeds are produced in these little cones. One of the reasons I planted alders was to have a supply of the cones. I thought they would be great for craft projects. Unfortunately, I’m not very crafty as far as producing art is concerned, so I don’t use many cones. Some would argue that I’m quite crafty, but they are referring to the use of trickery and subtle cunning in dealings with people.

The Common Alders were planted at the base of a slope where the moisture level remains high. A couple die each year. I estimate that they’ll be gone in another five or ten years. The few alder seedlings that develop are eliminated as part of the maintenance program.

If it weren’t for all the neat lichens that grow on their trunks, I would probably go ahead and cut down the alders.

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