Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Indian Horse Chestnut

Aesculus indica is one of my favourite horse chestnut. I have a special relationship with this tree and I can't forget its name or its appearance. Some may think because its country of origin - the Indian Himalayas - and it may well be one of the reasons. The story starts at the end of my first year in Kew. The flowers had long withered, and the unripe fruits were dangling from its branches. An old couple of visitors asked me the name of this tree, rightly pointing that the fruit looked like a fig, but that all other features were far from any fig tree they knew. I didn't have the time to look for the label when I heard Greg, head of the training section, shouting with contempt: "It is an INDIAN HORSE CHESTNUT". It was so shameful , I will never forget. The only thing I can tell is that I took a very close look at the tree, and went back to learn all its seasonal features. I was reward as I recognise it everywhere last year in the Himalayan foothills. The conkers are very similar in shape to the European Horsechestnut (A. hippocastaneum), just darker and rougher. A smaller eye - I like to call it the third eye - is drawn within the buckeye's white centre. This tree is, to my taste, the finest of the genus. The flowers bloom a little later than most species, and the summer foliage is a lustrous dark green that changes to orange/red in autumn. This tree has an undefinable poise. I have often observed its resistance to the Horsechestnut leaf miner (Cameraria ohridella), which is another good reason to be planted. And sometimes, when I look at a flower like that, all the misery and nonsense vanish, as by magic...

1 comment:

  1. AudelDK,

    I have found several sites by following Blogger's "occupation:gardener" profile link and yours is among those from which I learn most. My compliments on your excellent photos and sensitive, detailed commentary.