Flora and fauna – Horse chestnuts

Who doesn’t love the horse chestnut? With their spiky green cases, gleaming seeds, celebrated by children (I hear ‘conkers’ has started to make a comeback).

Horse chestnuts, with their mahogany-bright conkers, are the very essence of a British autumn and more importantly you can find this beautiful tree all over New Mills

But did you know that this quintessential part of the British Autumn was introduced over 500 years ago from Turkey and provides a rich source of nectar and pollen for insects, particularly bees. Caterpillars of the triangle moth feed on its leaves, as does the horse chestnut leaf-miner moth whose caterpillars provide food for blue tits – deer and other mammals also eat the conkers.

You’ll recognise new horse chestnut trees in Spring because of their sticky buds, but it goes without saying the best part of the tree is of course the conker; now where did I put my 47’er from 1978 !

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