Hainault Forest Website

Tree identification

Horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum

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Large opposite sticky buds. Horseshoe shaped leaf scars.

In early spring the sticky bud swells and the scales open. An insect is trapped on the sticky scales.
Leaves emerging from sticky bud. Flower buds appearing  Photo: Vic George Horse chestnut flowers.   Photo: Vic George

Fruit cases of Horse chestnut

Photo: Vic George

Fruit in a spiny case. Generally one conker. When two occur they are known as "cheesers" as in the picture. Horse chestnut bole. Scaled with bosses.

 

HORSE CHESTNUT  Aesculus hippocastanum

 

Mature Horse chestnut trees are found throughout the Country Park and in Hainault Lodge Reserve and there are many self set saplings. Several mature trees can be found in the Farm area. The large sticky buds and the horseshoe shape leaf scars are noticeable throughout the winter and in the spring the terminal buds burst into leaf and the inflorescence appears, which when in flower, decks the tree in pinkish-white candles. The leaf is compound palmate with 5 or 7 deeply serrated leaflets which are unstalked. The spiny seed case splits to reveal a shiny conker.  Stalked leaflets, red flowers and/or spineless seed cases, if present, indicate varieties of Horse chestnut. The fruit were collected in the autumn by schoolchildren for a game of conkers, but is not played so much today. The Horse Chestnut in the London Boroughs and particularly Redbridge is plagued with a heavy infestation of a micro moth Cameraria ohridella. The long term effects of this are at present being investigated by the Forestry Commission. See Newspage for more details and photos.

TOP: Compound palmate leaf. 5 or 7 leaflets

ABOVE: Horse chestnut on the farm showing autumn colours

Horse chestnut in winter by the farm entrance.