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L'Alder is a plant belonging to the family of Betulaceae, of Eurasian origin and generally present in areas with a temperate climate. In our country, the Onder is widespread in all regions, starting from the plains to the mountainous areas.
Alder: the tree
L'Alder it generally reaches a height of 20-25 meters. However, some specimens can reach 30 meters in height even if the tree usually remains lower. Its presence usually indicates poor drainage or marshy soils.
The Alder grows mostly in colonies, in many cases on the banks of lakes or rivers. The roots often extend to the water, turning intoideal habitat for small fish or for other aquatic species.
There bark it is brownish in color. As we age, it tends to become darker, with the simultaneous appearance of furrows.
The foliage, on the other hand, is not dense but appears light, despite being made up of fairly wide leaves.
The Alder is a tree that feeds on many varieties of insects. Among other things, there are several species of fungi that develop in a symbiotic relationship with the Alder. We are therefore faced with an essential plant for biodiversity.
Varieties of Alder: Black Alder, White Alder and Green Alder
L'Black Alder or Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is widespread throughout Europe, with the exception of some northern areas. To the east, its presence extends as far as western Siberia, Asia Minor and Persia. The tree is also present in North Africa. The trunk of the Black Alder is erect and robust, with a more or less fixed branching. The leaves are deciduous, varying in shape from obovate to round, with 2-3 centimeters long petiole. The bark appears dark gray or black and is crossed by sinuous furrows.
Black Alder is characterized by a strong wood, easily workable and very resistant to humidity. It can be used to make barrels, toys, poles but also to make cellulose.
L'White Alder or Gray Alder (Alnus incana) is present in central-eastern Europe. Its distribution range goes as far as Scandinavia. In Italy it is found in mainly mountainous areas, along the Alpine chain and inNorthern Apennines, up to 1,600 meters. The White Alder can reach 25 meters. Features a erect trunk and an irregular branching, with dense foliage. The leaves are deciduous, ovate-elliptical in shape, with a short petiole. The wood obtained from it is less valuable than that of the Black Alder. It is also a not long-lived tree, with a lifespan that does not exceed 50-100 years. A peculiarity that distinguishes the White Alder is that it is used quite frequently for reclamation of polluted land and to prepare reforestation.
L'Green Alder (Alnus viridis) is present in the mountainous regions of Europe. It is one of the main components of subalpine bushes between 1,600 and 2,400 meters but can also be found at much lower altitudes. In our country, the Green Alder is widespread in Liguria and in the Alps. It is an upright shrub with a height ranging from half a meter to three meters. The leaves are viscous, around 5-8 centimeters long and with a hairy petiole of 1-2 centimeters.
Green Alder is able to carry out a fertilizing and protective action of the soil. It is a short-lived plant, with a lifespan that does not exceed fifty years.
Of the various species of Alder, it is mainly the Black Alder that provides timber. When fresh, the wood has a color that ranges from pale yellow to light pinkish white. As it dries, it tends to become orange-brown on the surface. When it is completely dried, it is finally brown-red in color.
We are dealing with a medium-heavy and soft wood that does not cause particular problems during processing. With it, smooth surfaces are obtained. However, wavy surfaces can also be obtained in correspondence with the insertions of the branches or other areas.
Alder wood is usually used for interiors. It is therefore used for the construction of furniture and for the covering of ceilings and walls. Alder is also widely used in making kitchen utensils, of carving wood and of children's toys.
There is also an unusual use linked to this wood. In fact, the Onder has always been used for smoke the fish, especially salmon, but also guarantees good results with meats such as pork and beef. This is due to its delicate aroma, with a sweet aftertaste, which is able to flavor foods without being heavy or dominant.
Finally, the use of alder bark in traditional medicine should not be forgotten. This is especially true for the Black Alder bark which stands out for being excellent astringent properties, greatly exploited in the production of toothpastes and mouthwashes. A further use in the medical field concerns the treatment of inflamed gums and related bleeding.
The therapeutic properties of Onder have been known since ancient times. In the Middle Ages its leaves were used for heal ulcers. In popular tradition, the leaves of Black Alder were instead used to reduce sweating, by virtue of their astringent abilities.
Onder is also distinguished by the presence of substances such as lipids, pigments and tannins. With its leaves it is possible to obtain infusions, capable of eliminating waste from our organism responsible for pain, fatigue and general inflammatory states.
Alder: pine cones
The pine cones of Alder very rich in substances that result from strategic importance in aquariums. Within these ecosystems, alder pine cones are used to acidify the water, making it an amber color that favors the well-being of fish and invertebrate organisms.
The pine cones also release humic acids and tannins. The former facilitate the growth of aquatic plants. The tannins instead play an effective antibacterial and antifungal action, completely natural. This particular property makes alder cones very useful
during reproduction as they avoid the formation of mold on the eggs.
Among other useful functions of the alder cones inside the aquariums, should be remembered, for example:
- The ability to cancel heavy metals and ammonia compounds that may be present in tap water;
- The ability to favor the natural coloring of the fish, molluscs and invertebrates;
- The ability to keep common parasites away;
- The ability to keep the pH stable;
- The ability to create a more natural habitat for the small inhabitants of the aquarium.