Conkers have always been a part of my childhood. In primary school I remember being shown how to put string through the conker so we could spend the whole of break and lunch playing ‘Conkers’.

However within the last week the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
now classified the Horse Chestnut on the ‘vulnerable’ to extinction list in Europe.

Horse Chestnut trees are declining because of disease and the rise of an invasive moth. Young saplings only survive three to five years before they are killed by the leaf-miner moth. Mature trees aren’t as susceptible.

CONKER is one of the words in Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s book ‘The Lost Words’ with a beautiful poem to go with it.


A huge Horse Chestnut tree watches over my local badger sett. Stick, Arrow, Pirate and the rest of the clan forage under the shelter of its branches.

I noticed that quite a few of the conkers had been eaten. Although they are poisonous to humans and dogs, deer and squirrel eat them. I’m presuming by the way these were peeled that they were eaten by a squirrel.

I couldn’t make it down to London today to Chris Packham’s #HS2NoThankYou peaceful protest, so I collected a few conkers to plant in pots in my own garden. I’ve been doing this with acorns for a number of years and now have roughly 30 oak saplings ranging from a few centimetres to over a metre tall. I’m hoping that in a couple of years my oak saplings will be joined by some Horse chestnut ones (if they survive).


Get Your Boots On is now available from the publisher (The fastest way to get it) by clicking this link

Or you can ask for it in your local book shop or order online from Amazon UK

About Alex White - Appletonwild

This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. My passion is for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. This year my debut book "Get Your Boots On" was published I am a keen amateur photographer. All the photographs on this blog are taken by myself unless stated otherwise. I am a member of A Focus on Nature, the network for Young Nature Conservationists, BBOWT, The Oxon Mammal group and The Oxfordshire Badger Group. You can also follow me on Twitter @Appletonwild Instagram appletonwild
This entry was posted in Autumn, Blogging, Environment, Local patch, nature, The Lost Words, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Woodland and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Conkers

  1. Pingback: Conkers –

  2. Good luck with your seedlings. Diseased trees here in France have been doing a little better lately and the nuts I planted have grown very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Steve Staker says:

    Hi Alex interesting conked blog .
    I was only talking to a man this morning , who collected 5 conkers and potted them up last year . They grew in to strong healthy young trees . He told me he had planted in a woodland near him . Were there are empty spaces , where old trees had been felled . Fingers crossed they survive and thrive . I was only thinking about doing the same myself a month ago . Now my mind is made up to do my bit for the much loved Horse Chestnut tree .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great Conker memories of great horse chestnuts. Some of the National Trust Osterley horse chestnuts have died but they saved some by some severe lopping. It looked awful at first but has worked for many of them in an avenue. Sorry I missed Chris Packhams HS2 demonstration and the climate one. I seem to end up writing poems instead. Will check out your book.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t know that Horse Chestnuts were considered “vulnerable,” Alex. Whenever I am in Germany during the spring, I love their beautiful blossoms. As kids, we collected them and fashioned any number of animals out of them. I hope you will be able to grow and transplant a few trees!

    Liked by 1 person

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