Trees……..

Horse Chestnuts, Martins Hill

It is great to see the trees back in full leaf, as nature carries on regardless. One of the earliest such trees is the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). They are now in full blossom. It pays to look closely at its delicate colours.

Horse Chesnut in blossom

Most famous for their seeds, much used in the past by small boys to play the game of “conkers ”.

Other uses of the conkers include horse medicines, as additives in shampoos, and as a starch substitute. Chemicals extracted from conkers can be used to treat strains and bruises. There’s hearsay that if you place conkers around your house it will keep spiders away, but there’s no scientific proof that this is the case.

The Victorians wrote recipes for making conker flour. The seeds were shelled, ground and then leached to remove bitter flavours. It’s not a common practise these days and if consumed in excessive quantities conkers are mildly poisonous. (Woodland Trust)

Plant Concern

IMG_1713A member of the public has expressed to the Bromley Times concerns about the planting of Ricinus communis planting (see above), which they considered is poisonous. in Library Gardens.

Idverde, in partnership with the Council, have used this plant as a bedding plant for many years as indeed many organisations do across the country, including the RHS as we understand it.  Councillor Smith’s quote below, to the Bromley Times, outlines more about how this plant is used in a Bromley context.

Councillor Colin Smith, Executive Councillor for Environment said, “This plant has been used in Bromley for many years and is used extensively as a decorative plant in many areas across the country, with the plant removed at the end of the season when the particular display is finished which is entirely normal and safe practice.   If left in situ, in common with many other bedding plants, they could grow to a substantial size, which would make it unsuitable as a bedding plant but it could also be at that stage that the plant may produce seed and this is when there may be associated risk, long after the plant has been removed as a bedding plant.”