The Delight Of Horse Chestnut Trees In Cambridge

This is a follow-up to my earlier post The Trees Don’t Give A Hoot, that featured a young horse chestnut tree.

What I meant by that title, if it is not obvious, is that the trees do not care that the world is being ravaged by COVID-19.

For the trees it is Spring, and time to blossom.

And on that theme, Tamara and I have been feeling more connection with nature on the walks we take, seeing more and appreciating more. Many, many people must be feeling this.

Tamara and I have felt truly blessed to be able to see these trees, to have some open countryside in the heart of town to visit. Cambridge has a number of deficiencies, mostly because it is flat (near the Fens), but it also has some absolutely lovely places to walk.

One of these places is just a couple of hundred yards from where we live, and this is where I took these shots (with my iPhone).

This Horse Chestnut tree is big by any standard but I hope you get an idea of how very, very big these trees can grow. Do you see the person exercising on the ground in front of the tree?

The second shot is of the candelabras. I don’t know whether that is the ‘proper’ name for the arrangement of flowers, but most people who know trees would know ‘candelabra’ for the flower arrangement.

And Why ‘Horse’ Chestnut?

Who knows whether this is the proper origin of the common name, but I learned that the name originates from the shape of the join where previous year’s leaf stalks sprouted. Can you see how it looks like a horse’s hoof shod with a horseshoe? Can you see the pin marks?

And finally, you might notice that the flowers on the candelabra behind the twig are pink. There is a pink tinge in the white candelabra, but the pink variety is something else.

By the looks of it, this pink variety has been grafted on to a different base – probably a white variety.

Here is the complete tree – in winter with snow on it. I posted this photo of the snow-laden tree in an article about this tree, on December 25, 2017.

What a long time ago that seems.

Cambridge in the snow on 10 December 2017


  1. Joan E. Miller says:

    What a magnificent tree! I have always been a fan of big trees. I always have an urge to lay a hand on them. I am sure they have wonderful energy and wisdom. Thanks for the explanation of how the tree got its name. Those leaf scars, I think they are called, are unique to every species. I learned about them in a tree class. There are keys to match the scars with their trees. I wonder how many insects, birds and critters it supports.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good tip about a species having its own identifiable leaf scar. I read somewhere that the oak supports the most species because it is native to the UK. The horse chestnut is a relative newcomer, introduced to Britain from the Caucasus in the 1500s. They certainly support bees because Tamara and I saw a big bumblebee on the flowers of a pink horse chestnut yesterday.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol, that’s a rather ego-centric way to look at Oak Species, isn’t it David?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hail Britannia!; )

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Haha. It’s just a time thing as I am sure you know – the longer a species is in a place the more species inhabit its ecosystem. There is a question of when ‘native’ is truly native, of course. Grey squirrels, for example, have been in the UK for about 150 years (Grey squirrels (Scirius caroliniensis) are native to North America and were first released in the UK in 1876) and some people ‘hate them with a passion’ because they claim the greys have pushed the red squirrel to the margins of Britain. I love grey squirrels – endlessly interesting – and I would not want to see them culled just because someone thinks that reds are ‘more native’. I could go on….

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Not sure what happened to my answer (likely had to put the phone down and it’s been lost to the ether… Oh wait, found it!: )
          And also depends upon where it is that you’re a ‘native’ of, and to which you’re referring, of course. (Awkward, but made a little sense, I hope?; )

          But, in spirite of what all of the articles I found said, those I recall (and being the ONLY squirrels I recall) from earliest childhood, growing up in the country, are the saucy, plucky(!) native Red Squirrel while the Greys, and their Black versions, are simply invasive, Urban Dwellers expanding their territory (and I truly wish there were more Fox families about to keep them in check… :/
          But this is my Cheeky Little Chattterbox who lives in the Red Pines surrounding our yard:


        4. I saw a terrific programme on TV a few months ago that opened my eyes to how to destroy a habitat. The programme was about ‘keystone species’ a species without which an entire ecosystem will fall apart, maybe cease to exist. And we humans know so little in the overall picture of what keeps the balance broad-based and relatively invulnerable to destruction. We clog in and clean up – and unwittingly destroy what we have not taken the time to understand.

          I wrote this a while ago

          Red Macaw
          Red macaw with pretty feathers
          and eyes of blue or eyes of grey
          and nose of clay and feet of feet.

          How simple is the life of trees
          and flying high and seeing these
          mere mortals on the ground below
          logging forests as they go.


        5. I could not click ‘like’ as, with so much Truth inside, your poem made me very sad… But – on a much better note David – with Oaks being so very long lived and of such incredible size, is it any wonder they host more species than any other tree?: ) ❤️

          Liked by 1 person

    1. That may explain why the Red Horse Chestnuts are clearly grafted onto the base of a ‘native’ species.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tamara says:

    Candlelabras, David, that’s the primary key which you taught me that has helped me to identify these cutie beauties, so thanks again for that. 🍃

    Liked by 1 person

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