Beavers - nature’s gardeners

Stepping into Nature - Minden Riverwalk

Beavers - nature’s gardeners

Minden, Ontario K0M 2A1, Canada

Created By: Haliburton County Master Gardeners


Did you know that beavers like to eat the bark, buds, leaves, twigs and roots of alder trees? We’ve got a healthy, mature Speckled aka Tag Alder (Alnus incana) at this stop along the Minden Riverwalk – not unsurprising since Speckled Alder prefers moist areas along stream banks Beavers will also use Speckled Alder branches as building material for their dams.

You can identify a Speckled Alder by the pores on its bark (called lenticels). A Speckled Alder will grow as a shrub or small tree. Speckled Alder roots have nodules that connect with specialized nitrogen fixing bacteria, so are considered “nitrogen fixing trees”. What does this mean? Just like legumes, the specialized alder bacteria change inorganic nitrogen into a form that can be easily taken up by plants. These specialized bacteria also perform “rock dissolution” to provide a wide range of nutrients to plants. Alder trees have a key role in enriching soil in forest ecosystems.

In addition to beavers, Speckled Alder buds, seeds and catkins are food for birds like redpoll, grouse and goldfinches. Moose and muskrats will also eat the twigs and leaves. Since Speckled Alder flowers early in spring, its pollen is an important food source.

Did you know? Alder bark contains salicylic acid, similar to aspirin, just like willow bark.

Also found here is Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) . You will see its white blooms in late summer and early fall. It’s a nectar source for many butterflies and birds and supports native bees like sweat bees. It prefers moist soil and will spread by both seed and rhizomes (specialized roots). It is a deer resistant plant!

This point of interest is part of the tour: Stepping into Nature - Minden Riverwalk


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