Conkers are laying glossy brown under trees all over. Horse Chestnuts are not native to Britain, they were introduced in the 1600s.They do not feature strongly in our woodland but they are found across the country.A horse Chestnut in the spring covered in fantastic candelabra shaped flowers. The buds ( sticky) followed by the delicate leaves are beautiful in Spring followed by these gorgeous flowers. It is a tree that has a lot to offer the eye !
The first ever game of conkers that was recorded was in 1848 on the Isle of Wight. The game was played before this but with cob nuts.
The conker still in its case above was found yesterday in a field opposite the botanic gardens in Cambridge. There were plenty of conkers to be collected however a large number were safe as they had landed in cow pats!
When you first collect a conker it has a wonderful Varnished quality almost glossy . This quickly goes as it dries, these conkers from yesterday varied in size and shape , I fancy the flat one at the front , this is the one I would have soaked in vinegar or dried especially for a game of conkers.
The world conker championships are held in the village of Ashton in Northamptonshire and has been going since 1965.
I love the spiky cases of conkers , this one from yesterday looks like a bronze sculpture I sat it on the mantelpiece.
Horse Chestnuts are a common sight,’there are estimated to be 470,000 tree across the country.
Conkers are not fit for human consumption but deer ,cattle and horses do eat them. People put them in wardrobes to deter moths and in rooms to chase out spiders. Who knows if this works, it seems unlikely.
Horse Chestnuts are suffering from a pest at the moment called the leaf miner moth. The larvae of the moth burrows into the leaves , they become dry and brown and eventually are killed. You will have noticed some trees have gone brown very early in the year because of this.
These larvae were first observed in Macedonia in 1985 and then in London in 2002 . They are spreading 40-60 km a year.
Although it does not affect the health of the tree it does cause damage to leaves and makes the trees more susceptible to other diseases.
Another problem facing the horse chestnut is bleeding canker. This has increased in the last five years. It can affect any age of tree, mature trees can be disfigured. Younger trees can be killed in 3-5 years.
Let’s hope that the trees win out against these threats and continue to grace the countryside with their wonderful canopies of flowers and harvest of conkers in the Autumn.