Conversations With Trees #8

Chestnut 007Today’s tree, I believe unless otherwise notified by a tree expert, is a Red Alder (?), Alnus rubra

This tree challenged me because it appears as a wide, large tree in my neighborhood, but it does not look like other alders I have known.  At first I went through all the hickories, chestnut and ash identification, but the leaves do not match.  The learning curve is steep for self-taught botany.

Its little green “cones” seemed to fit this red alder description: “Female cone catkins 4-8, are 1″ long, on short stalks, which are green at first, then turn brown and woody at maturity.”

What do you think about these catkins? (My apologies to photographers who actually have cameras that focus properly).

Chestnut 002

Chestnut 005

Assuming this is a red alder, I learned it does a great service to its own soil by being a nitrogen fixer, making little nitrogen nodules with symbiotic bacteria along its roots that enrich the soil with nitrates.  Then when it’s leaves fall, they are full of nitrogen to feed other plants.  How cool is that?

If you want some basic info on the nitrogen cycle, look at these 14 slides: Nitrogen Cycle.  If you don’t, don’t.

Chestnut 001

Tomorrow is another day and another tree. The world sure seems interesting when you start to look deeply at what’s been in front of you all along. Many thanks for the oxygen and for being a vital part of my life support system!

About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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