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Conkers: From Flowers to Conkers

Beloved by school children and wonder things to collect - we have four horse chestnut trees in our garden which we have grown from conkers!

But the story starts in the Spring and I have been photographing the same "candles" throughout the year

See also another series of photographs showing how leaves have formed on the same tree!

To see a larger copy of each image click on it; to see the next large image click at the right of the image, to go back click on the left of the image. To close a large image click on the cross in the top right hand corner.

New photographs are usually added to the bottom of the page - click to go to the bottom of this page


3 May   5 May

What tree do conkers come from?
Conkers come from the horse chestnut tree. The name 'conker' is also applied to the seed and to the tree itself. Horse chestnut trees can grow to a height of around 40m and can live for up to 300 years.

They're rarely found in the UK woodlands but are common in parks, gardens, streets and village gardens - hence why you can find plenty of conkers in the countryside. Conkers (seeds) are surrounded by a spiky green case

When was "Conkers" first played?
The first mention of the game is in Robert Southey's memoirs published in 1821. He describes a similar game, but played with snail shells or hazelnuts. It was only from the 1850s that using horse chestnuts was regularly referred to in certain regions. The game grew in popularity in the 19th century, and spread beyond England.

The first recorded game of Conkers using horse chestnuts was on the Isle of Wight in 1848.

Conkers are also known regionally as obblyonkers, cheggies* or cheesers. A "cheeser" is also a conker with one or more flat sides, this comes about due to it sharing its pod with other conkers (twins or triplets).


Can you eat cooked conkers?
No. Conkers contain a poisonous chemical called aesculin. Eating a conker is unlikely to be fatal, but it may make you ill. They are poisonous to most animals too, including dogs, but some species such as deer and wild boar can eat them.

Do conkers keep spiders away?
There has long been an old wives’ tale rumouring that spiders will curl up and die within one day of being close to a conker because of a noxious chemical that the seed exudes. However, there is no evidence that this is actually true.

Can you use conkers to wash clothes?
If you've ever seen conkers lying on the ground and wondered - what are they good for - the answer is... washing your clothes. ... In fact, the horse chestnuts contain a substance called saponin - the same as found in soapnuts which are traditionally used for washing clothes in India and other parts of the world.

Did Conkers Help to Win the First World War?
The answer to this question is too long to display here, but please go to: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/heritage-highlights/conkers-help-win-fww/


7 May   12 May
14 May   17 May
20 May   22 May
1 June   3 June
5 June   8 June
12 June   14 June
16 June   19 June
19 June - from now on we'll concentrate on the conkers!    
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