The trees at Keele

We have over 150 species of tree on campus, not counting the 240 species and varieties of Flowering Cherry! Amongst them are many of our common native species as well as some more unusual ones. So, if you can't tell a Beech from a Birch or just want to know a bit more about them then read on!

Common Alder - Alnus glutinosa

Origins : A native species that grows alongside streams, fens, carrs, lakes etc in all parts of the UK.

Leaf : The leaf shape is rounded whereas the other Alders at Keele have more oval-shaped leaves.

Flowers :The male catkins occur in groups of 3 - 5 and are dull purple in the winter but open a dull-yellow colour and 5cm long in the spring. The female catkins, often mistakenly called cones, provide a rich food-source for birds in the winter, especially Redpolls and Siskins.

Alder catkins Fruit : The seeds have cork-like growths which allows them to float on water and thereby move freely along watercourses.

Alder bark Tree : The bark on mature trees is grey-brown with closely separated plates elongated in a vertical direction. The tree is coppiced frequently and the cut wood turns an orange-red colour.

The roots contain nitrogen fixation nodules which make up for the lack of nitrogen in the water-logged soils in which it grows. It is sometimes planted to enrich poor ground and to prevent erosion of river banks.

Uses : The wood is yellow when seasoned and works easily. It was once used to make clogs and mill-wheel cogs.

Its natural habitat of watery places meant that it was also used for sluices, water troughs and piles, while the dry wood makes good charcoal.


  • Common around the lakes.