Horse Chestnut Blossoms, Soon

May 5, 2008 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

After walking this hood for some twenty years, I’ve only come to spot four horse chestnut trees. That’s better than nothing, and in fact, they really ought to be treasured.

First, a touch of botany:

The horse chestnut tree [Aesculus hippocastanum] is native to Asia and northern Greece, but it is now cultivated in many areas of Europe and North America. The tree produces fruits that are made up of a spiny capsule containing one to three large seeds, known as horse chestnuts. Traditionally, many of the aerial parts of the horse chestnut tree, including the seeds, leaves, and bark, were used in medicinal preparations. Modern extracts of horse chestnut are usually made from the seeds, which are high in the active constituent aescin (also known as escin).

And:

Despite its common name, the Horse-chestnut is not related to the Chestnuts (Castanea), which are members of the Beech faimily (Fagaceae). The Horse-chestnut is in the Buckeye family (Hippocastanaceae) and is in the same genus as other buckeyes, Aesculus. The Horse-chestnut has its common name due to the husks of the conkers being spiny and the conkers themselves shiny brown like the Chestnuts.[3] It is also claimed that the name is derived from the horse-shoe mark left on the twig after the leaf drops in Autumn.

Maybe this sounds like any old tree to you, but when it flowers, it is truly a unique sight:

These pictures don’t really capture it, so I suggest taking a stroll over to Forest Hills Gardens to see the few specimens of this tree in our area (Forest Park excepted; I haven’t checked over there). I went to look at them this past weekend and saw that the buds have formed, so we might see full-blown blossoms by end week.

From Station Square, walk up Greenway Terrace until you come to the circular sitting area, just before Flagpole Park. There are two mature horse chestnuts and two young ones right there. You can tell them by their unique leaf arrangement (see photo, top).

If you know where there are any more of these trees, please let me know. I’d also love to know if there are any tulip trees in Forest Hills. Thanks.

Top image: Revolution Health

Lower images: Horse-chestnut.com

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Entry filed under: environment, Forest Hills, local notable, timely topic.

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