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Nature Explorers Club: Horse Chestnut Tree

This week's theme for Nature Explorers  is Oak trees. We could not find an oak tree near us, so we did our study on an Aesculus hippocastanum, commonly known as the Horse Chestnut Tree.

Bark Rubbings

A Palmate Leaf

I explained to Mali and Elli that the horse chestnut tree has a palmate leaf and we counted the number of leaflets (7). Then Mali added a leaf to his leaf press for his collection.

First Sketches ~ Leaf

I had Mali and Elli each draw one of the leaves from the tree.


The seed of the horse chestnut tree, also called a conker is a hard brown nut found in a prickly casing. The green outer casing will turn brown and crack open revealing the conker inside. They fall from the tree when they are ripe in the autumn months. We found lots of empty casings in the grass beneath the tree, so we figure the squirrels like to eat them. We picked a few that had not fallen yet and opened them up to find the conkers inside. Some had many conkers inside, others only had one. We also opened up a conker to see what was inside. It looks like a little plant embryo.

Conkers is also a children's game in which each child has a conker on the end of a string and takes turns trying to break another's with it.

A hole is drilled in a large, hard conker (we used a yarn needle and poked it through). A piece of string is threaded through it about 10 inches long. A large knot is tied at one or both ends of the string to secure the conker.

The game is played between two people, each with a conker.

They take turns hitting each other's conker using their own. One player lets the conker dangle on the full length of the string while the other player swings their conker and hits.

I wonder if this is where the expression "conked" comes from!

Leaf Rubbings

Number Seven

Since there are 7 leaflets in a horse chestnut leaf, Mali made a number 7 with the leaflets.