Monday 23rd October 2017
Horse Chestnut (Aesculus Hippocastanum)
Many of us know the horse chestnut as the conker tree from our childhood and spent many hours pickling and drying our conkers. At this time of year you can see many of the husks on the ground, going from bright green to brown along with the leaves, the conkers are often absent, having being snatched up by squirrels and stored for winter. Conkers were also used as animal feed, however though it is not poisonous to humans consumption is not recommended as they can cause mild sickness. The leaves grow on their stalks in groups of five in a shape resembling a club, and when the stalks fall from the tree a horseshoe shaped scar remains.
Fun fact; Horse chesnut trees are mostly unsuitable for timber as the wood tends to twist as it grows, this can be observed on the trunks of older trees where the bark twists around the tree. Historically conkers only started to be used for their namesake game in the 19th century, prior to that seashells were used instead!