New alders are magic for Turn Moss
The Friends of Turn Moss have planted alder trees grown from local seed on the Moss. Who knew how magical they can be? Find out all about their amazing properties here.
Hundreds of years before Stretford and Chorlton were developed, the low-lying fields of Turn Moss were a tracery of brooks, ditches and ponds. Water loving trees such as willow and alder lined the mazey rivulets offering prime otter holt and water vole burrow real estate.
As a pioneer species, alder has entwined its roots and branches throughout our folklore and magic. Legend tells how Robin Hood and his men disguised themselves by dyeing their clothes Lincoln green using alder flowers. Indeed, it is well known that the best dressed fairy folk make their tunics from the alder tree!
As winter unfolds its fist, the purple buds are the first herald of spring, followed by dusty catkins scattering abundant pollen for early foraging bees. Hundreds of moth species use the alder as a food for their larvae, amongst them the incredibly romantically named ‘Alder Kitten’, the ‘Pebble Hook-Tip’, ‘Small Yellow Wave’ and the ‘Pale Brindled Beauty’. In late summer the caterpillars spin a gossamer cloak shrouding the tree as they eat their way through every leaf.
Seed eating birds, the goldfinch, redpoll and siskin with their heavy-duty beaks feast on the seeds held within the miniature cones.
As a pioneer, the alder thrives on poor, waterlogged ground. It fixes nitrogen in nodes on its roots, providing richer soil conditions after its death, creating a fertile environment for the next generation.
Alder wood is used for gunpowder, for boats and jetties, it has the remarkable ability to harden in water and does not decay: Venice is built on alder pilings. Many of our mill worker ancestors would have walked miles wearing clogs with alder wood soles. The timber, bark and cones have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, a natural foot freshener even with sweaty socks!
We have planted alders grown from local seed, nurtured and potted them on until they reach a size to hopefully withstand accidental dog and human traffic. Our little trees will drink up the water, fan out their roots and lift their leaves up to the light.