Common Horse Chestnut

Aesculus hippocastanum

This elegant group of Horse Chestnuts are by the entrance to the Wilderness Reserve. These are Conker trees and too familiar to dwell on. There are a great many in the park with particularly fine specimens in the sub-tropical garden and at the corner of Ladies Pond. Owls occasionally roost in the latter.

Conker comes from “conqueror” and the game used to be played with hazelnuts and even snails. Chestnut comes from an old belief that they were given to horses in Turkey to cure bronchial complaints.

The characteristic barley sugar twist can be seen on these specimens. The tree has an unusually small distribution in the wild, mainly Albania and northern Greece. Although planted everywhere you never see Horse Chestnut woods, probably because the wood has few uses.