Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Of all our mature trees surely the Horse Chestnut has the most striking display of flowers. The wonderful flower spikes make the tree look like an enormous candelabra!

It was the flower display that led the Horse Chestnut to be here in this country in the first place. It is native to the Balkans and Asia Minor and was brought here to adorn our park lands as long ago as the sixteenth century. Five hundred years and its still not a local - its unlikely I am ever going to be accepted as a local here in Dorset as I have not done five years yet!

The Horse Chestnut is a prominent tree, usually found in avenues and in clusters in ornamental parks but some have self seeded elsewhere.

When I was young we used to collect the conkers to use in conker fights and tradition had it that if you buried one for a while it would make it hard. I guess if you do not go back and unearth it then there is a pretty good bet that a Horse Chestnut tree will appear.

Not only are the flower spikes and the conkers key features of this tree, it has a large, imposing frame, large seven-lobed leaves and, of course, has 'sticky buds' in spring. At junior school we used to put some twigs with sticky buds in a jam jar of water and watch them open

Not a native but welcome none the less I think.

Popular posts from this blog

Pelvetia canaliculata: the channelled wrack

Labyrinth Spider (Agelena labyrinthica)