by Niddrie Mill Primary School
triangle of land was once a wildlife garden for Niddrie Mill Primary
School. Although it's been left to run wild, it still contains many
Common Alder -
male catkins (long and thin),female catkins (pinky red) and cones
There are many Alder
trees here, on the Burn’s
edge (Niddrie Burn). Alder is very valuable in many ways. Firstly, it grows
in wet places. Growing beside streams, its roots help to bind the soil
together to stop erosion. Its roots also have nodules on them, which
contain bacteria that ‘fix’ nitrogen in the soil. This means that
nitrogen is converted to nitrates, which can then be taken up by the
tree, and the other plants that grow beside it.
The trees produce
male and female catkins before the leaves, in winter. The female
catkins become woody when they form seeds and they look like small
pine-cones. Small birds like to eat these seeds, especially Siskins.
wood is resistant to rotting in water and was used for clog soles in
days gone by. The timber was also used to build waterside structures,
including the ‘crannogs’ that were built in many Scottish lochs.
These were artificial islands, used as sanctuaries for people and
livestock when villages were attacked. Perhaps this is why the Alder was
known in folklore as a symbol of secrecy and places of refuge.
Other trees here include Cherry, Birch, Ash, young
Scots Pine, a large Willow by the burn, Rowan, Elm and Sycamore. On the
other side of the burn are Sycamore and Birch.
There are also some shrubs that are very valuable for
wildlife: Elder, Hazel, Brambles and Dog Rose. Ground plants include
Dock, Cow Parsley, Ground Elder, Hogweed, Giant Hogweed,
Rosebay Willowherb, grasses (mostly Cocksfoot), Few-flowered Leek (in
Cleavers, Lesser Celandine, Creeping Buttercup, Daffodils, mosses,
Stinging Nettles, Butterbur, Common Reed, White Dead Nettle, Comfrey,
and Ivy on the wall.
Keep a lookout for Starlings taking baths in the burn, Mallard ducks
on the water and Siskins in the Alder trees.
to look out for and When
flowers of Few-flowered Leek
Kidney-shaped leaves and
starry yellow flowers of Lesser Celandine
Spikes of Butterbur flowers
|Drooping yellow flowers of Comfrey
Different flowers of Grasses
Delicate white flower heads of Cow Parsley, Ground Elder and Hogweed
Red/pink flowers of Rosebay Willowherb
Butterflies and insects
Green cones on Alder
Giant Hogweed skeletons
Papery catkins on Birch trees
Huge Butterbur leaves
Bright red Rowan berries
Birds eating seeds and berries
Reddish catkins and small, dark cones on Alder trees
Siskins in the Alder trees