- Vapiano Magazine
- Horse Chestnut Varieties – Are Buckeyes And Horse Chestnuts The Same
- Horse Chestnut vs. Buckeye
- Types of Horse Chestnut Trees
- What Can You Do With All Of Those Buckeyes?
- Five things you should know about… buckeyes
- Cindy Decker commentary: Squirrels the only foe a buckeye can’t defeat
- Are Horse Chestnuts Edible: Learn About Toxic Horse Chestnuts
- About Toxic Horse Chestnuts
- Can You Eat Horse Chestnuts?
- Uses for Horse Chestnuts
- Conker Crafts for Kids and Grown Ups! Perfect Autumn Crafts for All
- Have fun finding and playing with conkers this autumn!
- And there are a number of other reasons why:
- The Fix
- Can you eat conkers? And other conker facts
- What is a conker?
- Can you eat conkers?
- Do conkers keep spiders away?
- Sweet chestnuts and conkers – what’s the difference?
- What can you do with conkers?
- Discover the magic of the seasons!
It’s autumn, so the horse chestnut and sweet chestnut season is open. But where can we find sweet chestnuts? It is the inedible horse chestnut that hangs from most of the chestnut trees in our parks. The shell has a few hardish little prickles, and the nut inside is round with a large, light-coloured mark on one side.
The slightly sweet and very fragrant sweet chestnut, on the other hand, grows from the sweet chestnut tree. The fruit look like large hazelnuts, and they are protected by a shell that looks like a little green sea urchin. But the prickles are soft. Equally, the leaves of the two trees are very different: on the well-known horse chestnut tree, the leaves are very big, splayed out like fingers, and tend to be matte, while those of the sweet chestnut are almost shiny. Apart from that, the leaves of the sweet chestnut are wedge shaped, running into a very narrow point at the tip.
Sweet chestnut constantly gaining ground
In northern Germany, it is the horse chestnut with its rounded hand-like leaves that is better known. That is because the sweet chestnut with its pointed leaves is mainly native to the wine-growing regions around the Rhine and Moselle. However, little by little, the tree is making its way north and, from October, sweet chestnuts can be now be gathered almost everywhere in Germany. Once the green, prickly shells have dropped from the tree and broken open, the fruit are ripe. Since they taste best fresh, you should prepare these little nuts as soon as you have gathered or bought them. If you don’t want to gather them yourself, in autumn and winter you’ll find them for sale at the market or in well stocked supermarkets. They should be plump, with a nice shiny brown shell. If not, this means they are already a bit older, and they lose their sweet, nutty aroma.
Roasting sweet chestnuts in the oven
Once you’ve got your sweet chestnuts home, they can be prepared in a variety of ways. The most common method, however, is to roast them in the oven. To do this, you need to peel them, and then cut a small cross in the round curve of the chestnut. A word of advice: soften up the shiny chestnuts by placing them in hot water for ten minutes. This makes them easier to cut, and they stay juicy after they’ve been roasted in the oven. Then pop the little brown nuts into the oven for around 15 minutes at 180ºC – and your tasty snack is ready!
Although we aren’t offering the roasted variety of this little delicacy, from November to December we’re serving two chestnut specials: a delicious sweet chestnut soup and a creamy sweet chestnut risotto with fried mushrooms – complemented with a dash of white wine, parsley and Grana Padano D.O.P.
Enjoy your meal!
Horse Chestnut Varieties – Are Buckeyes And Horse Chestnuts The Same
Ohio buckeyes and horse chestnuts are closely related. Both are types of Aesculus trees: Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) and common horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). Although the two have many similar attributes, they aren’t the same. Are you wondering how to tell the difference between buckeyes and horse chestnuts? Let’s look at a few of the distinguishing characteristics of each and learn more about other Aesculus varieties too.
Horse Chestnut vs. Buckeye
Buckeye trees, so named for the shiny seed that resembles the eye of a deer, is native to North America. Horse chestnut (which isn’t related to the common chestnut tree), hales from the Balkan region of Eastern Europe. Today, horse chestnut trees are widely grown across the northern hemisphere. Here’s how these Aesculus trees are different.
Horse chestnut is a large, stately tree that reaches heights of 100 feet (30 m.) at maturity. In spring, horse chestnut produces clusters of white flowers with a reddish tinge. Buckeye is smaller, topping out at about 50 feet (15 m.). It produces pale yellow blooms in early summer.
Horse chestnut trees are suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. Buckeye trees are a bit hardier, growing in zones 3 through 7.
Buckeyes and horse chestnuts are both deciduous trees. Ohio buckeye leaves are narrow and finely toothed. In the fall, the medium green leaves turn brilliant shades of gold and orange. Horse chestnut leaves are larger. They are light green when they emerge, eventually turning a darker shade of green, then orange or deep red in autumn.
Nuts of the buckeye tree ripen in late summer and early fall, generally producing one shiny nut in each bumpy, brown husk. Horse chestnuts consist of up to four nuts inside spiny green husks. Buckeyes and horse chestnuts are both poisonous.
Types of Horse Chestnut Trees
There are different types of both horse chestnut and buckeye trees too:
Horse Chestnut Varieties
Baumann’s horse chestnut (Aesculus baumannii) produces double, white blooms. This tree produces no nuts, which reduces litter (a common complaint about horse chestnut and buckeye trees).
Red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea), possibly native to Germany, is thought to be a hybrid of the common horse chestnut and red buckeye. It is shorter than the common horse chestnut, with mature heights of 30 to 40 feet (9-12 m.).
Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia or Aesculus pavia x hippocastanum), also known as firecracker plant, is a clump-forming shrub that reaches heights of only 8 to 10 feet (2-3 m.). Red buckeye is native to the southeastern United States.
California buckeye (Aesculus californica), the only buckeye tree native to the western United States, hales from California and southern Oregon. In the wild, it can reach heights of up to 40 feet (12 m.), but usually tops out at only 15 feet (5 m.).
What Can You Do With All Of Those Buckeyes?
Image source: .com
If you live in the Midwest, then you probably are familiar with the large nuts that are commonly known as buckeyes. Kids love to collect them in the early fall, and some people consider them good luck charms.
While they are on the tree, buckeyes have a light green spiky shell that remains tightly closed until they fall from the tree in September and October. The hard shell then opens, revealing one or two smooth nuts that are brown with white tops.
The buckeye tree got its name from Native Americans who called the tree’s nut “hetuck” because of its resemblance to the eye of a deer. Ohio is the state most closely associated with buckeyes, but it is not just because buckeye trees grow there.
Beet Powder: The Ancient Secret To Renewed Energy And Stamina
In the 1840 presidential campaign, the opponents of William Henry Harrison, a Virginia native making his home in Ohio, claimed that the military hero was “better suited to sit in a log cabin and drink hard cider” than to live in the White House. However, Harrison’s supporters turned the intended insult into a campaign slogan, calling Harrison “the log cabin candidate” and using a log cabin made of buckeye wood with buckeyes decorating the walls as a symbol for the campaign.
When Harrison won his bid for the White House over the incumbent President Martin Van Buren, his adopted home state became known as “the buckeye state.” A song referring to Ohio as the “Bonnie Buckeye State” also became popular around the same time.
Image source: .com
Today, the buckeye is most closely associated with Ohio State University (OSU) and its athletic teams. In 1930, OSU graduate Milton Caniff, who later created the Steve Canyon comic strip, designed a logo for his alma mater containing a buckeye leaf. This image now has a prominent place on the university’s seal.
Although the nuts of the buckeye tree (Aesculus glabra) look like chestnuts, they do not taste like chestnuts due to their high tannic acid content. In fact, they are mildly toxic in their raw state.
So what can you do with all of those buckeyes?
Native Americans were adept at making use of acorns and buckeyes, which both have high amounts of tannin. They peeled and leached them to remove the tannin, and then roasted them before mashing them into a paste or flour. However, most experts warn against eating buckeyes; in their raw state, consuming too many will cause vomiting and diarrhea.
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Some sources claim the nuts are useful for removing mildew stains from linen. Bookbinders once used a paste made from buckeyes that was not only strong but also insect-proof. Prohibition-era moonshiners used the brown nuts to give their whiskey an aged appearance.
Some traditional medicine included the use of very small doses of the powdered nut to treat spasmodic cough, asthma and even intestinal irritations.
Externally, a medicinal ointment or paste can be made from buckeyes to ease the pain of rheumatism, rashes and hemorrhoids. To make the salve, cover the nuts with a cloth and then crush them with a rolling pin or hammer. Place them in a pan filled with enough water to cover the nuts. Boil the water, drain the water and then repeat the process. Then add enough lard to make a paste.
If you take a quick look around the Internet, you will find recipes for “buckeye candies” and “buckeye fudge,” but please keep in mind that these recipes are for treats that resemble buckeyes in appearance. They do not contain the nuts as ingredients.
What are ways you have used buckeyes? Share your tips in the section below:
If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.
Five things you should know about… buckeyes
There’s more to know about buckeyes than you might think.
Ohio buckeye. Yellow buckeye. Golden buckeye. White buckeye. Red buckeye. California buckeye. Texas buckeye. Painted buckeye. Bottleneck buckeye.
Who in Ohio — the “Buckeye State,” where the state tree is the buckeye and the “O” in the state flag looks like one — knew there were at least these nine different varieties of buckeyes?
Don Myers of Lake Township was aware. Some call him the “Buckeye Man.”
For at least two decades, he has erected a display of different buckeye tree branches in the Wildlife Building of the Stark County Fair.
“There was somebody who told me that there is a Georgia buckeye,” said Myers, but he said he hasn’t seen one.
There may be more buckeyes. The Encyclopedia Britannica claims there are “about 13.”
Passers-by this year asked the Buckeye Man a multitude of questions, but let’s start easy, with a fact that even those who are uneducated about buckeyes would consider low-hanging fruit.
Native American Indians living in what is now Ohio gave the fruit of the buckeye tree the name “hetuck,” or “eye of a buck,” because it resembled the eye of a buck deer.
Here are five more things to know about buckeyes.
1. When people start singing that holiday song — “chestnuts roasting on an open fire …” — don’t eat buckeyes.
Unless they’re made of chocolate and have a peanut butter fudge filling, buckeyes are bitter and sort of poisonous.
“They have esculin, a semi-toxic substance,” explained Myers. “You’d have to eat several. One wouldn’t hurt you, but two, three or four start to build up.”
However, buckeyes can be good for you. Indians ground them into a paste and baked them into biscuits and then used them to relieve battlefield pain. Think big aspirin. Even today, some believe that buckeyes can be used in different forms to treat arthritis, varicose veins and rashes.
2. They are in the same family, but there is a difference between buckeyes and horse chestnuts.
“The bud of a buckeye is brown and dry and pointed,” said Myers. “A horse chestnut is fat and sticky and dark brown.
“The pod of a buckeye is beige and pebbled. A horse chestnut is bright green with sharp spikes.
3. The light “eye” part of a buckeye is a belly button.
“It’s where the nut grows, that’s what the ‘eye’ is,” said Myers. “That’s where the umbilical cord, or membrane of the seed pod, met the nut and allowed it to grow.”
4. Not all buckeye trees have equal groupings.
Most buckeye trees have petioles, or groupings, with five leaves, but the Texas Buckeye has seven leaves. Seed pods vary in shape and surface texture, depending upon the kind of buckeye tree. Some buckeye trees actually are listed by nursery catalogs as bushes, although these buckeye bushes can become trees if they’re not trimmed.
“The golden buckeye probably grows the largest,” said Myers. “There are a couple in Arboretum Park (in Canton) — that are 80 to 90 feet tall.”
5. Buckeyes certainly aren’t rare, especially on ohio state gear, but the trees they grown on are getting fewer in number.
“I’d say they’re diminishing,“ said Myers. “People consider them dirty — they’re always having to pick up after them, so they get rid of them.
“A lot of times, they were planted on a devil’s strip, and they would heave up the sidewalk and be taken out. And a lot of people plant them in the backyard, but they plant them on a property line, which causes a problem.”
Cindy Decker commentary: Squirrels the only foe a buckeye can’t defeat
Squirrels apparently don’t read any of the literature that says the buckeye nut is toxic. Recently, a friend asked whether I would collect buckeyes from our tree for her children’s school, which was planning to make necklaces and trinkets to celebrate those other Buckeyes.
Squirrels apparently dont read any of the literature that says the buckeye nut is toxic.
Recently, a friend asked whether I would collect buckeyes from our tree for her childrens school, which was planning to make necklaces and trinkets to celebrate those other Buckeyes.
My tree was loaded with fat, macelike shells still wrapped tightly around the shiny seeds.
I promised my friend I would collect the nuts the minute they ripened and fell.
I never got the chance.
The tree was plucked almost clean overnight, leaving only a few lonely buckeyes at the ends of branches too thin to support a squirrels weight.
Shell fragments and half-eaten nuts littered the sidewalk underneath.
Squirrels are said to be the only animal to eat buckeyes without ill effect.
All parts of the tree are toxic leaves, bark and nuts because of compounds that cause muscle weakness, paralysis, intestinal distress and vomiting.
But squirrels somehow bypass the results felt by cattle, horses and other animals.
Despite the poisonous properties to humans and livestock, squirrels are known to eat the raw seeds, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says in a fact sheet about the tree.
Books and the Internet are full of theories about why squirrels can do what others cant. Some people insist that squirrels know which side of the nut is poisonous and leave that.
The 1913 book The North American Journal of Homoeopathy includes one of the most complete studies I could find.
Dr. H.L. True of McConnelsville, Ohio, wrote a chapter on buckeye trees, including observations of squirrels:
Squirrels will eat the nuts, but I do not believe they are especially fond of them. On the ground under buckeye trees are frequently seen nuts with one side eaten away by squirrels.
There is belief among farmers and hunters that squirrels will not eat the whole nut; that they only eat the side farthest from the germ. This is a mistake. My friend, Mr. C.H. Morris, had three squirrels confined in a cage, and he tried the experiment of feeding them buckeye.
He gave to each a buckeye at the same time and watched them eat it. No two began at the same place on the nut. It was haphazard with them as to where they began it. None of them ate more than half a buckeye at a time, but if no more food was given them until they got hungry again, they would finally eat the whole nut.
Native Americans are said to have eaten the nut after leaching out the toxins, but I think they, too, might have viewed it as a last-resort dish.
Instructions for leaching out the toxins include running water over the nuts for hours.
For humans, the best way to use a buckeye nut might be as a keepsake or good-luck charm: One in the pocket is said to ensure good fortune.
Cindy Decker, At Home editor, writes about native gardening and living with wildlife. Reach her at 614-461-5027 or by email.
Are Horse Chestnuts Edible: Learn About Toxic Horse Chestnuts
When you hear the song about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, don’t mistake these nuts for horse chestnuts. Horse chestnuts, also called conkers, are a very different nut. Are horse chestnuts edible? They are not. In general, toxic horse chestnuts should not be consumed by people, horses or other livestock. Read on for more information about these poisonous conkers.
About Toxic Horse Chestnuts
You’ll find horse chestnut trees growing across the U.S., but they originally come from Europe’s Balkan region. Brought to this country by the colonists, the trees are widely grown in America as attractive shade trees, growing to 50 feet (15 m.) tall and wide.
The palmate leaves of the horse chestnuts are also attractive. They have five or seven green leaflets united in the center. The trees produce lovely white or pink spike flowers up to a foot (30 cm.) long that grow in clusters.
These blossoms, in turn, produce spiny nutshells containing smooth, shiny seeds. They are termed horse chestnuts, buckeyes or conkers. They resemble edible chestnuts but are, in fact, TOXIC.
The horse chestnut’s fruit is a spiny green capsule 2 to 3 inches (5-7.6 cm.) in diameter. Each capsule contains two horse chestnuts or conkers. The nuts appear in autumn and fall to the ground as they ripen. They often display a whitish scar at the base.
Can You Eat Horse Chestnuts?
No, you cannot consume these nuts safely. Toxic horse chestnuts cause serious gastrointestinal problems if consumed by humans. Are horse chestnuts poisonous to animals as well? They are. Cattle, horses, sheep and chickens have been poisoned by eating poisonous conkers or even the young shoots and foliage of the trees. Even honeybees can be killed by feeding on horse chestnut nectar and sap.
Consuming the nuts or leaves of horse chestnut trees causes bad colic in horses and other animals develop vomiting and abdominal pain. However, deer seem to be able to eat poisonous conkers without ill effect.
Uses for Horse Chestnuts
While you cannot safely eat horse chestnuts or feed them to livestock, they have medicinal uses. Extract from the poisonous conkers contains aescin. This is used to treat hemorrhoids and chronic venous insufficiency.
In addition, over history conkers have been used to keep spiders away. However, there is some debate about whether or not the horse chestnuts actually repel the arachnids or simply appear at the same time spiders disappear in winter.
Oooh this post has been a LONG TIME in the making – 5 years to be exact. Today is all about CONKERS (also known as Buckeye or Chestnuts and for me the German Kastanien) – ie Conker Crafts for Kids. Crafting with Chestnuts/ Conkers (I am going to be so undecided as to which term to use throughout, so bear with me please!!!) is is one of my most precious childhood memories. I have a handful of memories mainly around Autumn Crafts for Kids and Christmas Crafts – out of which my love for crafting AND crafting with MY KIDS is born. I particularly loved nature crafts for kids. It is those memories that I am trying to pass on to and re-create with my kids. There is something irresistible about Autumn nature finds – the smooth textures of acorns and chestnuts/ conkers in strong contrast to the tactile prickliness of pine cones and acorn “hats”. The colours and shapes of leaves to play with an recreate. Wonderful. So… today is all about the humble Horse Chestnut (not the edible kind) – in North America they are often referred to as Buckeyes, here in the UK as Conkers. And here are 15 lovely conker craft ideas for Fall.
The conker craft ideas were first published in August 2015 and have been updated and republished for your convenience!
Conker Crafts for Kids and Grown Ups! Perfect Autumn Crafts for All
Conker & Plasticine Animals – combine plasticine with conkers, makes it really easy for younger children to work with this wonderful nature material. It creates an explosion of colour and is lots of fun.
God’s Eyes are a popular Summer craft, but they also look beautiful as Chestnut and Stick Weaving Craft for Autumn.
These are probably one of our favourite little Conker Crafts – Cute Pencil Toppers – I love things you make that you can “use” and keep!
Adorable cute Conker Face Friends
Conkers or Buckeyes make great Puppet Feet! As they are easy (ish) to make holes into and have a great little weight to them.
These Simple Conker Stream Toys are so easy and super fun to make! And look WONDERFUL flying through the air!
Learn the British traditional game of Conkers – a childhood classic, soon to be forgotten if the new generation don’t learn How to Play “Conkers” soon!
Conkers Horse Craft – love the acorn “hat” muzzle
These little Buckeyes are turned into CUTE Spiders – perfect for Halloween
Horse Chestnut Crafts – SNAKES – super tactile and great threading activity! Again, one of my more “favourite” Buckeye Crafts, especially with younger children (grown ups need to make the holes of course)
Conkers Crafts – Bat Pencil Topper
Adorable conker craft – sweet sweet owls! Totally adorable!
Basteln mit Kastanien: Freddi Fuchs | www.dorokaiser.online.de
More Buckeye Crafts Cuteness!!! Adorable Conker Foxes. Great idea to add some felt and ribbons to your conkers. So sweet!
These are actually from an Etsy Shop – Buckeye Snowflake Ornaments – I will have to investigate and see if I can make some!
Want more Nature Crafts for Fall? Check out:
We also have a more “all year round” 20 Nature Craft Set of ideas here:
We also have some great Nature Play ideas – just nature and NOTHING else needed!
OR take a look at some of specifically theme Nature Crafts:
Lavender Makes & Bakes
Flowers & Leaf Crafts
Pine Cone Crafts
Or check out our comprehensive Autumn Crafts for Kids list here:
Have fun finding and playing with conkers this autumn!
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Hello Patrice: We have a source for some very nice looking chestnuts — well, that is, if they are edible! Sorry, but I do not have a photo of the tree with its leaves. But I do have one of this glorious tree bare naked — and of the chestnuts. I tried to research this tree myself …, but no luck. Maybe you can enlighten me? We sure would like to roast these morsels, but will side on caution until we know they are not going to make us sick! Thank you kindly.
— Jeanette and Joseph
Dear Jeanette and Joseph: The tree is a native California buckeye, Aesculus californica. In other parts of the country the fruit is called horse chestnuts. In an earlier article I mentioned the importance of knowing botanical names, because common names can be misleading. The chestnuts that we eat belong to another family of plants in which there nine species. The American chestnut is Castanea dentata.
Aesculus, which grows around the world, has about 19 species. In Britain these trees are known as conkers, referring to a game played with the nuts.
For me the California buckeye is the perfect small tree for a dry garden. In its native habitat you will find it among oaks and manzanitas in the foothills (below 4,000 feet) and along creeks throughout the state. Aesculus californica is endemic to California.
During winter months, the silvery-white bark glistens against a backdrop of verdant hills and valleys. I think its branching habit makes it one of the most spectacular of trees.
But sadly this tree is not considered a desirable landscape plant, because some find it unappealing in the summer months. I am in love with buckeye though, because of its beautiful adaptation to our climate. It is the first to leaf out in February, when water is usually readily available, and the first to go dormant in late summer, when water is scarce. It begins losing its leaves in late August, which is not a desired trait for most home gardeners.
Even so, allow me to gush about the flowers, which open in late spring. The pinkish-white candelabra-shaped blossoms are made up of many tiny fragrant flowers. California native bees love the nectar, although the flowers are toxic to the European honey bee. It attracts butterflies such as California sister, swallowtail, purple hairstreak and monarch.
Toxic horse chestnuts from Jeanette and Joseph’s California buckeye tree (Aesculus californica). (Courtesy of Patrice Hanlon)
As to your question about toxicity, buckeyes are high in saponins — a toxic compound that is present in all parts of this plant. Native Americans here would harvest the seeds for fishing, cracking them open and releasing them into water, where the saponins would stun the fish and making them easier to catch! In years when acorns were scarce, the seeds were boiled to remove toxin, and then ground into flour.
Dear Garden Coach: I would love some suggestions for books about nature.
— M. Scogna
Dear M: Stay tuned, I will put together a list for my next article, coming out at the end of December. And I would love to hear from others who have favorite titles for me to share, whether for children or adults.
Send your questions to [email protected]
Ah, autumn. Season of crunchy leaves, chilly winds and conker fights.
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Conkers can look so appealing sometimes. That shiny brown carapace, their firmness, the fact that they look as if they would taste good roasted on a fire…
It means each year, around this time, people start searching for whether or not you can eat them.
Don’t do it!
Even though conkers might look appealing, there’s no sensible way you can eat one.
And yes, that applies even if you fry, boil or roast them.
A friend of mine once actually broke a microwave by cooking a conker in it – it exploded with such force that the glass was shattered.
So you’ve had fair warning.
And there are a number of other reasons why:
Let’s get one thing out of the way first, you might be confusing conkers (also called horse chestnuts) with sweet chestnuts, which are delicious.
Conkers are not sweet chesnuts.
While they might look the same – both have green spiky shells and both are brown – they’re completely different.
MORE: Children left devastated after school’s only conker tree cruelly chopped down
Conkers are actually mildly poisonous and contain a chemical known as aescin, which can induce vomiting and even paralysis.
That said, it’s not true for all animals with deer and wild boar being a couple of exceptions to the rule.
But horses, despite the name, would still get sick if they ate them.
Can you eat conkers? ? #innersquirrel
— callum (@herbyburby) October 17, 2016
Been in the car with my nan 40 minutes and she’s crying at all the wasted conkers on the floor..she wants to know why she cant eat them?
— Lauren Brooks (@laurennbrooksxo) October 16, 2016
I don’t trust people that eat conkers ?
— Maisie Smith-Walters (@hxneybun) October 12, 2016
The presence of these chemicals also makes the seed taste very bitter – so it’s not even worth it for the taste.
It’s not as if we haven’t tried. During World War I, the government experimented during times of rationing to see whether conkers were a viable food source.
They discovered that crushing them, leeching them with water and then boiling them rendered them edible, but that they had almost no nutritional value.
So resist the temptation to pop a shiny conker into your mouth and use them for bashing your friend’s knuckles instead.
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Can you eat conkers? And other conker facts
It’s the time of year when we all go bonkers for conkers! Get the lowdown on these super seeds.
What is a conker?
Conkers are the glossy brown seeds of the horse chestnut tree. They grow in green spiky cases and fall to the ground in autumn – the shells often split open to reveal the shiny conker inside. Look out for them in parks, streets and woods.
Can you eat conkers?
Conkers are poisonous to people and dogs. (Photo: Margaret Barton/WTML)
No. It’s not a good idea to eat conkers because they contain a chemical called aesculin, which is poisonous. You’d have to eat an awful lot of conkers before it killed you, but you’d probably be sick.
Conkers are poisonous to most animals too, so don’t let your dog play fetch with them. Some animals, such as deer and wild boar, can eat them. But not horses, even though the tree is named after them
The best way to eat conkers is to make our yummy chocolate conkers recipe. Don’t worry – it doesn’t involve any real conkers!
Do conkers keep spiders away?
Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes people put conkers around their homes to scare off spiders, but scientists haven’t been able to prove it works. Try it yourself, what happens?
They might not keep spiders away, but there is a chemical in conkers that wards off moths. So you could also try putting some in your wardrobe to stop your woollies getting munched.
Sweet chestnuts and conkers – what’s the difference?
Conker cases change from bright green, to yellow, to brown. (Photo: Ben Lee/WTML)
Sweet chestnut and horse chestnut trees aren’t actually related, but their seeds are similar. Both come in greens shells, but conker cases have short, stumpy spikes all over. Inside, the conkers are round and glossy.
Sweet chestnut cases have lots of very fine spikes – so they look like little green hedgehogs! Open up the sweet chestnut and you’ll find two or three nuts inside. And unlike conkers, chestnuts are really tasty when roasted.
Sweet chestnut cases are covered in fine spikes (Photo: Bruce Beattie/WTML)
What can you do with conkers?
Loads of things! You can play conkers, get creative with our conker crafts, or make these kooky conker models. They’re also great for helping younger children with maths -use them to make counting, sorting and weighing fun.
We’d love to see how you get creative with conkers. Share your snaps using #NatureDetectives.
Discover the magic of the seasons!
Do your kids love conkers, crunchy leaves and curious creatures? If so, you can join the Woodland Trust to get inspiration all year round.
Your kids will get their own exciting post – activity packs bursting with art ideas, wildlife facts, puzzles and stickers. As members, you’ll also help us save the UK’s trees and woods for people and wildlife.
Find out more about Woodland Trust family membership.