Thursday, May 25, 2023

A Quick Tribute and Horse Chestnuts 2023

Before I get going with today's post, I wanted to pay a quick tribute to Tina Turner, who passed away yesterday after a long illness.  She was 83.

I will have my own tribute on Monday, but for now, I am linking to another blogger and his tribute.

Rock and roll heaven is filling up.

Now, to my scheduled post, and my annual tribute to one of the most beautiful trees where I live in New York State.

I'm a little late blogging about the annual bloom of the horse chestnut trees.   The flowers are on their way out, but the memory remains.

Unlike some spring trees, the horse chestnuts don't flower until their leaves are grown out.  Flowers can be either whitish or pink.   We have both in the part of New York State where I live.

The white ones are more common.  The white flowered pictures were taken May 15.

The trees can get quite tall.  But let's get close because I want to show you the flowers.

Let's get even closer.

So pretty.

The pink ones, I think, tend to be shorter, but this is a young tree.

These pink flowered pictures were taken May 21.

In the fall, the tree produces inedible nuts that children love to play games with.  One game, in particular, conkers, stretches back hundreds of years.  There's an entire tradition in Great Britain built around preparing and playing with your horse chestnut nut (conker).  My spouse played a variation of this game growing up near New York City.

What a lot of history rolled into one majestic tree.

But, what are horse chestnuts, exactly?

They are not native to our country, but rather, to the Balkans, in Eastern Europe.  They were introduced into Great Britain in the 1600's.

One thing they are not is edible - in fact, the entire plant, including its chestnuts (in Europe, they are called "conkers") are mildly poisonous.  

Native Americans would make a mash of the nuts and use it to stun fish. They would then have to get rid of the toxins in the fish, but it was an effective way to kill the fish.

But, why are they called "horse chestnuts"?

The nuts are edible for horses (and deer); perhaps that is why. Their scientific name is Aesculus (with about 15 species - I don't know which one I took a picture of but I suspect it is hippocastanum).  The trees have an interesting history.

As for conkers, my spouse, growing up near New York City, would play that game.  It was a favorite game at one time in Great Britain.  Now, alas, children entertain themselves in other ways.

Do you have horse chestnuts where you live?  

Joining Parul at Happiness and Food for #ThursdayTreeLove.


  1. ...we were at Highland Park this week and enjoy their Aesculus collection.

  2. I think I remember these from growing up in Massachusetts (just outside Plymouth). I could be mistaken but when I looked for a photo of the nuts, that looked like what I remembered.

  3. I thought I saw that tree in the Bronx the other day, but not sure. Maybe it was indeed a horse chestnut!

  4. We do not have horse chestnuts here along the Texas Gulf Coast. They are lovely!

  5. So they can be staple food for horses then?

  6. thecontemplativecat here. No horse chestnuts here in dry Calif. but there were some in Illinois area, Ohio has many. My sister makes candy, which is a ball of peanut butter stuff, dipped into candy chocolate, which hardens immediately. One side of the ball is kept w/out chocolate. Good treats.

  7. The first time I ever heard of conkers was on a British TV show. It was the topic of one episode, and I was completely mystified by the whole experience. (It was a show I stumbled across on Hulu, and now I can't recall the title. It's about 10ish years old, but it took place in the 1800s (1870s?).

  8. Rest In Peace, Tina.
    Coffee is on, and stay safe.

  9. Hi Alana - yes ... one is flowering outside my home here - lots around, I brought my brother a pink one ... as they only had white flowering trees. We had lots at home when I was growing up ... and played conkers as kids.

    The Oxford University Press Junior Dictionary eight years ago banned conker ... and other words, but wanted to included MP3-player, celebrity, broadband instead of conker, acorn, brook ...

    Cheers - love the photos - Hilary

  10. Beautiful leaves and flowers! have seen one of the Aesculus species in the Himalayas. Thanks for sharing these!!


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