The horse-chestnut outside King's College, Cambridge
the only widely planted tree with palmate
leaves. Each leaf is made up of 5-7 stalkless, toothed leaflets,
8-12 cm long, with strong veins and
a long tapering base. The leaf-stalk is up to 20cm long and has a swollen
base, above the point where the whole leaf falls in the autumn and leaves
a scar on the twig.
is a tall, deciduous tree which
can reach 35 m in height. When it is not browsed by cattle or deer
in parkland the arching branches sweep to the ground and turn up at
the end. The bark is red-brown or dark grey-brown and scaly.
In winter the
buds are protected by gum-covered scales
- the 'sticky-buds'.
Most trees produce
spikes of flowers with 4 unequal sized white petals, with spots at
the base. They are first yellow then pink. Red flowered forms sometimes
The large spiky
fruits break up into three parts, releasing one or two shiny 'conkers'.
The World Conker
Championships take place at Ashton near Peterborough every October.
'Conker' is a corruption of the word 'Conquerer'.
eaten by deer and cattle but not necessarily by horses. The horse
part of the name means they are unsuitable for human consumption.
The horse chestnut
is a native in the Balkan Peninsula. (This peninsula is in SE Europe,
bounded by the Adriatic, the Aegean and the Black Seas.)
a horse-chestnut bud