Alders are almost exclusively to be found in wet places, such as beside rivers, broads and gravel pits. They also sometimes occur in woodland on damp clay-rich soils, such as in NWT Foxley Wood. During spring and summer, alders have rounded, dark green leaves with a cookie-cutter edge and often have a notch missing from the tip of the leaf. Their bark is dark or blackish with small white speckles on twigs and hard purplish buds. The alder is not a tall tree but grows rather straight, often being recognised in winter by its Christmas-tree-like shape. It maintains its small dark seed cones throughout the winter.