Aesculus indica, the Indian Horse Chestnut photographed in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden with the new, small camera.
When I opened the file in Photoshop I was surprised at how beautifully the camera had captured the dappled light falling across the leaves. I mean all cameras are capable of capturing light (haha), but they vary in ‘the look’.
What that means is that I am developing a complex and in some ways very positive relationship with this little camera and the people at the lab of the manufacturer who designed the guts of it. It’s an emotional thing.
There’s more. It was only when I opened the file in Photoshop that I saw what the camera captured that I didn’t see as I was taking the photo.
Do you see the little horizontal, torpedo-shaped blob to the left of the flower? See the photo at the end of this article with a close-up of the little blob. First of all, though, something about the tree itself.
About The Indian Horse Chestnut
Aesculus indica – the Indian Horse Chestnut – is native to and common in the Himalayan lowlands between Kashmir and Western Nepal. It was introduced into Britain in the mid-19th century and it is grown as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens throughout Britain.
Its seeds contain saponin, and if the ground seeds are used for flour as they are in India, then the flour has to be rinsed out before baking to take away the bitterness. Saponins are surfactants, which means they are useful for clearing grease – as in washing up liquid. So that’s neat – you grind the seeds to a powder, wash them – and you get bread and something to clean the plates after you have eaten.
Saponins have more uses – they reduce cholesterol and they are anti-diabetics. And that makes me think of the many plants that are native to different parts of the world that protect people against diseases. And all the time the cures and preventatives are ‘under peoples’ noses’ so to speak.
The tree I photographed is covered in these pink flower inflorescences.
And the tree is, of course, a relative of a tree that is very common in Britain, Aesculus hippocastanum – the Horse Chestnut – which is native to the Caucasus, but has spread all over Europe, the British Isles, and the Americas.
The inflorescences of the Horse Chestnut are white, and Cambridge is blessed with many of them including a whole long avenue of them bordering Midsummer Common that I have written about before.
And now here is the close-up I mentioned, of the little blob on its way to the flowers. Is it a honeybee, perhaps?