Aesculus Hippocastanum

Every spring I am newly amazed at the wonder of the horse chestnut tree.

And not just the incredibly fresh green canopy of leaves, backlit by the sun.

Having inherited this tree in our garden, we are lucky enough to witness each spring how every individual fat brown sticky bud unravels to form not just one leaf, no, but a fan of palmate leaves and the most glorious candelabra of flowers.

All this from one modest bud. It amazes me every time.

As the bud unfurls, the knobbly pale green stalk of flowers pushes upwards while sets of the fresh green leaves begin to lower all around it, putting me in mind of a mechanical rocket launcher or some robotic device, unfolding its legs.

A little sadly, we will have to keep pruning ours to restrict its growth, so it will never reach its full potential in our modest garden.┬áThese majestic trees, with their slightly conical shape, are currently lighting up the countryside – and cities – at the moment, with their spires of creamy candelabra. On a recent visit to London we were taken aback by the spread of some of the specimens in the streets and parks as we walked.

And still, these ivory panicles hold one last surprise.

On closer inspection each individual flower is not the simple off-white that it would lead you to believe, but has a bright yellow centre, and is decorated with bright pink dots, which are so bright that they appear to fluoresce.

The horse chestnut is truly an amazing tree.

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6 thoughts on “Aesculus Hippocastanum

    • Ah yes, indeed! There are a few pink ones around here too, they don’t seem as big as the white ones, not sure if that’s another feature of the hybrid form, or just that they’re younger. Apparently they are a cross between the standard horse chestnut and red American buck-eye…

  1. I agree Sara, they really are spectacular trees, and thank you for showing us the wonderful detail in the flowers. A wonderful tree to have inherited, even if you do have to keep it in check.

  2. I agree, I also love horse chestnut trees, we used to have a huge one in the garden of the farmhouse I grew up in and I was aways fascinated by the bright pink and yellow in the middle of the flowers. Sadly it blew over in a storm one Christmas Eve, luckily not onto the house! but it did take out some outbuildings. Bethx

  3. Hi Sara, can tell how fond you are of this tree as your captures have such clarity. Love the candelabra blooms against the skeletal tree and sky. Good for varicose veins and pop a conker in your pocket to protect against rheumatism – sage advice for many years ahead !!
    Laura x

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