The Italian alder has a beautiful, slender silhouette, an often conical structure, a height of 10 to 15 metres at adult age and heart-shaped leaves with pointed tips.
The Italian alder. © Franz Xaver Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike terms 3.0 Unported
This species (Alnus cordata) is a member of the Betulaceae family. It is also called the "Corsican alder".
The bark of this tree is smooth, grey, sprinkled with lenticels and short vertical cracks. Its trunk bleeds when it is split. Its deciduous leaves, alternate, tough and smooth, stay green for a long time in autumn.
Leaves, catkins and fruit. © Sten Porse Licence Creative Commons Paternity - Share Alike terms 3.0 Unported
This monoecious tree flowers from the month of February. Its male catkins hang, while its female catkins, with a discrete red pistil, point upwards at the end of branches. Its fruit are dark brown cones, 2 centimetres long, which contain small winged achenes dispersed by the wind.
The Italian alder is found essentially in Corsica and southern Italy, but can also grow in the Southern Alps, and in colder regions such as Champagne and Lorraine.
This light loving species appreciates sunny areas and can grow in humid or dry environments, without any specific preference in terms of soil.
The Italian alder can be used to enrich poor or humid soil, as its roots are covered with nodules that can synthesize nitrogen from the air. Foresters can therefore plant this tree in certain areas that need to be enriched. Its reddish orange woodis easy to work.
Author: Michel Caron