Alnus cordata

Alnus cordata

The Neapolitan Alder (Alnus cordata (Loisel.) Desf.) is an arboreal species belonging to the Betulaceae family.

Systematic –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Order Fagales, Family Betulaceae and therefore to the Genus Alnus and to the Specie A. cordata.

Etymology –
The term Alnus comes from Alnus, which was already the Latin name of the alder. The specific epithet roped, means heart-shaped, heart-shaped, from cor, cordis heart, referring to the shape of the leaves.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Neapolitan alder is an endemic species of southern Italy, Corsica and the island of Elba. It is found from Sardinia (and Corsica) to the Apennines of Campania and Calabria-Lucania where it forms riparian thickets together with the black alder (Alnus glutinosa). It can be found with greater possibilities, between 200-700 meters of altitude. It is frequently associated with other deciduous trees (from the oaks to the beeches). The species has also been introduced in other areas of the Italian peninsula and other continents.

Description –
The Neapolitan Alder is a tree that can reach 15 meters in height, with dense foliage and bright dark green. It has a straight or ascending trunk, sometimes multiple, with a gray and shiny first rind, then opaque and cracked. The leaves are deciduous, alternate, petiolate, oval with accented apex, toothed margin, up to 8 cm long. It is a monoecious plant with unisexual inflorescences: the male flowers are arranged in triads, in catkins, while the female ones form small compact cones, pedunculate, carried in racemes.
The fruit is a small woody pinewood (achenocono) of ovoid or globose shape, up to 3 cm long, green in color and then brownish when opened, when it releases the small winged achenes.

Cultivation –
The Neapolitan alder is a typical species of the phytoclimatic zone of Lauretum and Castanetum; it has been used frequently in reforestation in the Fagetum area.
It is a very versatile species in terms of soil type so much that it is considered a pioneer species; however, it prefers the proximity of water and heavy, clayey soils. For this reason it is suitable for areas where annual rainfall does not fall below 800-900 mm, but it can withstand well the not too long periods of drought. The average temperature of the coldest month must not be less than -2 ° C. It is a heliophilous species and does not tolerate the shading of other species.
The Neapolitan Alder spreads through seed just covered with soil immediately after harvesting. Sowing in the spring is successful even without covering the seeds in the slightest. As soon as possible, it must be possible to dispose of the seedlings, and as soon as the seedlings reach the right size, they can be planted, during the following summer or during the spring, after having spent the winter outdoors. Alternatively you can proceed by woody cutting in autumn, on sandy soil and outdoors, immediately after the fall of the leaves.

Uses and Traditions –
Alnus cordata is a species suitable for forestation in areas with sufficient rainfall and suitable climate; in fact it can be used for reforestation in areas that are not fertile, hilly or mountainous, on exposed slopes and to consolidate landslides.
In the woods of Alnus cordata, the government of the plant can be either a fustaia or a coppice. It grows rapidly since at 30 years it can have a trunk of 35 cm in diameter and exceed 12 m in height in 20 years. Within the nodules of its root system the atmospheric nitrogen used by the Othano is only partially fixed; for this reason the surrounding plants can benefit from a greater fertility of the soil increased further each year by the decomposition of the leaves of the Antano after their abscission in autumn.
In addition, the Neapolitan alder tolerates salty winds very well, so it can also be grown in seaside locations.
This plant is suitable for medium-large gardens, on the bottom of English borders or as an isolated specimen surrounded by the lawn. Beautiful if flanked by evergreen shrubs, or salix with bright winter colors and / or branch cornus, or surrounded by particularly precocious spring bulbs and autumn that enhance the appearance of the plant at the end of winter and early autumn. If you are lucky enough to be able to place it next to a pond or a small pond (but also a fountain can go well) you will see a particularly fast growth.
As well as for ecological and forestry purposes, the Neapolitan alder can be used for its light and compact timber and is mainly used for packaging.

Preparation Mode –
Alnus cordata, in addition to ecological, forest or wood use, does not cover food or pharmaceutical uses.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.



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