Horse chestnut

2019 CEUnited Kingdom

"The Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is a ubiquitous tree species, best known for its substantial contribution to British culture in the form of 'conkers'", a children's game used with the tree's fallen seeds. "Unfortunately for the Horse Chestnut, it's currently in the midst of difficult times. It's now got unwanted company in the form of a small moth species, the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner . . . This moth was first recorded in the UK in 2002, though had been known in its native Southern Europe for nearly 20 years beforehand . . . The moth literally 'mines' its way within the leaf material leaving unsightly brown scars as the leaves eventually die in its wake." The moths weaken the chestnut trees, reducing their seed weight and germination rates, while leaving them vulnerable to disease. The Horse chestnut is also threatened by logging and forest fires. According to the IUCN, the Horse chestnut population was thought to be 5000-9000 individuals as of 2017 and is continuing to decrease.

Quote: James Duncan, "Species of the day: Horse Chestnut," Sussex Wildlife Trust, May 1, 2020. "Horse Chestnut," IUCN.

Image: Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons