Thursday, 22 September 2016

Conkers for the future

After two years of growth our two conker trees started to look a bit more promising this spring.

  Number one had two side shoots and number two was smaller but with two promising buds.  We had high hopes.  

They are both in the top meadow in the pylon field, between posts 3 and 4.  The above pictures were taken in February.  

In May, the fresh green leaves opened 

By July the youthful spring foliage was looking a little more middle-aged among the long grass,


and they have both survived the summer though are now turning brown.

Oh, by the way, someone has planted another horse chestnut near post 8 - guerrilla planting ?  We've left it in place.

Sweet but threatened
A little bit further along the meadow we have a sweet chestnut.  This is still rather small but is fighting for survival after several set-backs.

The two species are not related but share the chestnut name because they are a bit similar in appearance.  The Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) has a familiar leaf with about 9 separate leaflets, spreading out like a large, many-fingered hand.  Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) leaves are single and have pronounced teeth along the edge, pointing towards the tip of the leaf.

Further footnote.  The Forestry Commission has just identified and dealt with a single incidence of Sweet Chestnut Blight in one location in Kent.  

This fungal infection from Asia devastated chestnut trees in North America in the 20th century.  Widespread in Europe, it has occurred sporadically in Britain recently and been eliminated by destruction of infected trees.  If you want to read about it check the 'Forest Research' website.

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