Today’s tree is the horse chestnut.
In the photo above is a horse chestnut in May, the time when it’s covered in bonny candle-like white flowers and the young leaves have just clothed the tree 🙂
Horse chestnut wood has a smooth, soft texture, that’s pale and creamy in colour and great for carving – listen to a story about it:
Time for a Tale – how a king learns the importance of having a trade
Why horse chestnut?
- Some say that if you peel a twig off a horse chestnut branch, the shape left behind is like a horseshoe.
- It’s fruit’s been used to make medicines for horses…apparently extracts from the fruit soothe bruises and strains.
If you want to learn more check out the Woodland Trust info: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/a-z-of-british-trees/horse-chestnut/
Challenge – can you find one?
Let’s have a look at this tree in more detail…
The bark is reddish-brown with large plates.
If given room to expand, the horse chestnut has a lovely, tall, almost triangular form.
The buds, leaves, flowers and fruit
As soon as the light increases, the sticky buds begin to swell, and then gradually open.
The leaves and flowers emerge at the same time.
Gradually the 5-7 pointed leaves grow bigger and the flower rises up to become a bonny candle with many florets.
These flowers are loved by insects!
If the Gab o May does not rob the horse chestnut of its flowers, the insects will pollinate them.
Gradually over the summer they’ll develop into fruit that you might recognise!
Challenge – watch these flowers as the fruit begins to develop. How soon do the prickles appear?
During the late summer, the leaves change colour to bonny yellows and browns.
They gradually drift down from the tree.
The prickly nutcases ripen and fall down into this bed of colourful leaves.
They crack open to reveal the bonny brown nut, the conker – the seed for a new tree 🙂
Fun wi conkers
How many of you have played with conkers?
- With an adult’s help, make a hole through the centre of the nut. Put a string through the hole and tie a knot on the end.
- One person stretches out their arm, holding the string in front of them so the conker hangs down.
- The other person holds their conker above the string.
- Aim the end of the string at the other person’s conker, while stretching the conker towards themselves at an angle.
- Pull down on string, let go the conker and it should hit the rival’s one.
- Three goes and then swap.
- Whoever manages to crack the other’s conker wins 🙂
Here are some more ideas for fun with conkers: https://fiveminutemum.com/2018/09/19/five-conker-games/
See you soon 🙂