Conkers and Toadstools

We are lucky to have a horse chestnut tree in our garden, and in the past week it has begun to throw its prickly green and brown grenades at the ground below.

The gnarled, weathered and rather hostile shape of these cases belies the tender delights within. With a little pressure, the husks readily spring open to reveal their treasure, the highly polished jewel of brown which rests in a soft bed of creamy satin within.

This fruit is truly a work of art.

We don’t have any small boys close at hand to donate our growing hoard to, instead my husband brings them in rather proudly for me when he comes upon them down the garden, and I couldn’t resist collecting a handful myself, although they quickly lose their shine brought into the house.

I can’t help but compare the horse chestnut to its cousin, the sweet chestnut, and muse upon their differences – especially that the one with the more attractive and easily-handled case and the shiniest, most beautiful, fruit inside is the inedible fruit, while the sweet chestnut, so delicious roasted, pales by comparison with its wan and flat coat. I haven’t seen any sweet chestnut trees growing in this part of the world, but an immense chestnut tree towered over the garden where I grew up – the more densely spiked cases hiding within the leaf litter long after autumn dropped its feast, ready to catch the unwary hand or bicycle tyre.

A forest of mushrooms has also sprung up unbidden in our garden, in the long grass alongside a discarded drainpipe. They range in colour from milky white, to beige and deeper brown, with a slightly pointed cap.

I have learned my lesson (for the time being) from our close encounter with the yellow stainer in the field, and have no intention of trying to eat these, but wonder what kind of mushroom they are. Does anybody recognise them?


6 thoughts on “Conkers and Toadstools

  1. There are lots of sweet chesnut trees near where I live! Remember the great big ones along Reading Road South? This year I don’t think there will be a very good crop — weather conditions were all wrong.

    • Hi Mark, Indeed I remember the ones up Reading Road South well, I used to cycle along that road into town on a Saturday, avoiding the spiky shells lying in wait along the edges of the road! Lovely trees though, I don’t think I’ve seen one anywhere in South Wales though which is odd having grown up surrounded by them!

  2. I’ve had a small invasion of toadstools myself – spotted them outside our front hedge when I was parking up yesterday. They look the same as yours, and I too have no idea what they are. Not that that’s of any use to you whatsoever, lol!

    Those chestnuts look gorgeous. They’re sneaky little fruits, looking so shiny (almost like polished mahogany) and yet being inedible. That’s akin to a smack in the face really…

  3. Hi Ria 🙂
    I threw my toadstool pictures at the knowledgeable folks at “Wild About Britain” and have received some feedback that they look to be from the Psathyrella genus – non edible and not very interesting, alas! A couple of bigger and quite different fungi have also sprung up beneath our horse chestnut tree which we spotted today too, but they also appear to be non-edible and not very exciting. Interesting to look at though! The mushroom world seems to be far bigger than I ever imagined!

    The conkers are very pretty, mahogany is a good comparison! V unfair that they are purely ornamental, though they do that so well …. x

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