【赤鬼のつぶやき C.W.ニコル】ハンノキ(Alder)

 ハンノキは、潅木のようなものから高く成長するものまで35種類が知られています。アファンの森では’Alnus japonicus’という学名のハンノキが育っています。日本、韓国や台湾、中国の東側や極東ロシアに分布している種類です。英国で暮らした子どもの頃から、ネズミにカワウソ、アヒルやカワセミが観察できてお気に入りの場所で、よく釣りに出かけた近所の川や土手に沿ってハンノキが育っていることがありました。






C.W. ニコル


 There are 35 species of this tree, some being merely bushes, others growing into quite tall tree. The alder growing in our woods has the scientific name of ‘Alnus japonicus’; a species that is commonly found in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, eastern China and the Russian Far East. Alder is a tree very familiar to me from my boyhood in Britain because I liked to go fishing and watch voles, otters, ducks, kingfishers and herons, and alders like to grow along river and stream beds. Alders grow all over the northern temperate zone and down into Central America and further south in the Andes.

 The alder has simple, serrated leaves that are used as food for several species of butterfly and moth caterpillars. The male catkins, which dangle down like little fluffy tails, coloured yellow tinged with red, grow on the same tree as the female cones, which are small and brown.

 Alders are nitrogen-fixers. They take nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil through a bacterium that grows in small nodules on the roots. This enriches the soil, so the alder is what we call a ‘pioneer’ or ‘nursing’ tree. They grow quickly in poor or disturbed soil, and are short-lived, no more than a hundred years, giving way then to other species of more long-lived trees.

 Alder does not make good firewood, indeed, because it does not burn well alders make good forest fire breaks.

 Alder bark contains tannin, so it has traditionally been used to tan leather. Alder bark also contains an anti-inflammatory salicin, so it has been used widely by native people to treat rashes and insect bites.

 Alder wood is used to make electric guitar bodies, and also for furniture, cabinets and so on. In Europe it was commonly used to make pilings driven into mud or sand, in Venice, for example.

February 5th. 2018