Horse-chestnut tree - No fruits

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by JavaJ, Oct 31, 2023.

  1. JavaJ

    JavaJ New Member

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    Hello there
    I’m wondering if anyone has some insight about my chestnut tree. I’m in Vancouver, BC. Our very large chestnut tree does not have any conkers this year. In 20 years it has always produced thousands of nuts. I have tried to find some info online but not much explains it. Possibly the drought? I am concerned that it could be dying or diseased. Thanks much
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Conventionally "conkers" = Aesculus hippocastanum. And not Castanea species - which are you asking about?
     
  3. JavaJ

    JavaJ New Member

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    Aesculus hippocastanum. We have always refered to it as a “horse chestnut”
     
  4. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    That wasn't the title of this thread, though. I have renamed the thread. There are a lot more horse chestnut trees around here than Castanea species chestnuts; maybe more people know something about your question.
     
  5. JavaJ

    JavaJ New Member

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    Thank you so much!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2023
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Horse chestnuts don't make chestnuts. So, there is still a problem with the wording of the title - since "conkers" is in the body of the message it would be best to change the title to say "fruits". Also, these Aesculus seeds should not be referred to as "nuts" either. Regarding this year's lack of production nobody looking in here is going to be able to tell anything that might depend on visual clues, since there are no photos of the tree. Otherwise, I know there is not an across-the-board region-specific lack of fruiting because there are other individuals in the Salish Sea area that are fruiting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2023
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  7. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    From what I've been reading online, there are definitely some problems that prevent Aesculus hippocastanum from producing conkers.

    At the same time, it is well known that many shrubs and trees can be quite variable from year to year in their production of blossoms/seeds/nuts/fruit that has apparently nothing to do with disease or weather conditions. It can be hard to tell unless a pattern develops over several years.

    Where I live, Garry Oak trees are plentiful. Last year and the year before, there were virtually no acorns but this year as in 2020 there was an abundance. We had less rain this past season than anyone remembers. Hopefully your tree will bounce back and reward you with plentiful conkers again next year. (What do you do with them?)

    Have you looked at other 'Horse Chestnuts' in your area to see how they are doing compared to yours?

     
  8. JavaJ

    JavaJ New Member

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    Ok. I didn’t realize I needed to be so specific. I won’t expect much help here then. I may just ask around at a local nursery or contact an arborist. As I said my horse chestnut tree that has produced fruit prolifically for the 20 years I have known it. This year nothing. I thought that someone on this forum might have an inkling that could help me understand what could cause this.
     
  9. JavaJ

    JavaJ New Member

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    Thank you Margot. I will keep an eye on it in the spring. I suspect the drought was hard on it. I won’t miss cleaning up after it this fall but I would be concerned if it happened again. It is likely 40-50 years old. Irreplaceable if anything happened to it. I will have a look around the neighborhood and see if any other trees are lacking fruit.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2023
  10. JavaJ

    JavaJ New Member

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    Many neighbors collect them for various crafts. I have more than I could ever possibly know what to do with. Some people also claim that they keep spiders out of the basement if you place them around windows and doors. I haven’t had much success with that one.
     
  11. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    OK, I've done that.
    @JavaJ, Ron's comment is that you haven't shown us your tree, and it's not something that is affecting all local horse chestnuts. You're welcome to reply with photos showing the whole tree, and some closeups, so people can see if there are some other clues. See Attach photos and files | UBC Botanical Garden Forums.
     
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  12. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Yes, that theory has been debunked.
     
  13. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Correctly, Horse-chestnut, which is hyphenated precisely to show that it isn't a Chestnut (Castanea spp.): https://plantatlas2020.org/atlas/2cd4p9h.cpk
     
  14. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    To be really correct, it should be "fruit", as fruit, like sheep, or deer, doesn't normally have an 's' in the plural: one fruit, two fruit, a good crop of fruit, a bowl of fruit. Saying 'fruits' is like saying 'sheeps' or 'deers', not a serious error, but sounds quaint, and "not quite right".
     
  15. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I always ate fruit but photographed fruits. This may be a quaint personal thing.
     
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  16. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    With complete lack of consistency this British reference uses the plural for buds, leaves, leaflets, hairs, axils, panicles, petals, stamens and flowers then calls the fruits "fruit"; in addition, the inedible seeds are referred to as "nuts":

    A tree reaching over 100 ft in height, with a rounded, spreading head as much in diameter, and a trunk 15 ft or more in girth; winter buds very resinous. Leaves composed of five to seven leaflets, which are obovate, from 5 to 12 in. long, 2 to 5 in. wide, irregularly toothed, the terminal one the largest; the upper surface is glabrous, the lower one has patches of brown hairs in the axils of the veins, and short hairs thinly scattered over it. Panicles up to 12 in, high, and 4 in. through. Flowers with four or five petals, white with a patch of colour at the base, which is at first yellow, then red; stamens rather longer than the petals. Fruit spiny, 21⁄2 in. across, containing one, sometimes two, of the well-known lustrous brown nuts.

    Aesculus hippocastanum - Trees and Shrubs Online
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2023
  17. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    "Fruit is a collective noun taking a singular verb: Fruit is good for you; The tree bears fruit (not fruits).
    The plural fruits is used in talking about different types of fruit: oranges, mangoes and other fruits."
    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english-french/fruit

    The nouns, 'bud', 'leaf', 'hair', 'axil', 'panicle', 'petal', 'stamen' and 'flower' are not collective nouns.
     
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  18. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    If there were unfavorable conditions during the blooming period horse-chestnut may produce significantly less fruit. Here in Estonia this year horse-chestnuts have less fruit than usual, many large trees are without any fruit this year.
    This can happen also after very plentiful bearing in previous season.
    If there are no signs of disease, the tree looks healthy, then I wouldn't worry much about absense of fruit. But a little caution wont hurt - keep track if the tree will leaf out normal time next year. Horse-chestnuts are notorious by their habit to break suddenly without much warning if the tree is sick. Falling large branches can pose significant risk for human health and for buildings and cars parked under the tree.
     
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  19. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Then I guess somebody will have to clue in the producers of thousands of published plant descriptions that use the basic morphological categories leaves, flowers, fruits. Including this one:

    Aesculus hippocastanum - Wikipedia
     
  20. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    I think that in this quote from Aesculus hippocastanum - Wikipedia,
    "The common name horse chestnut originates from the similarity of the leaves and fruits to sweet chestnuts, Castanea sativa (a tree in a different family, the Fagaceae), together with the alleged observation that the fruit or seeds . . . ", fruits is used incorrectly in the first instance and correctly in the second. (Notice that 'horse chestnut' is not hyphenated either.)


     
  21. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I'm talking about the Description section of the Wikipedia page. Wherein a commonly repeated basic formatting is followed with first the plant body, then the leaves, flowers and fruits being described. And one variation I've seen in a print publication elsewhere being Form, Bark, Leaves, Flowers, Fruits - how the first subject area is labelled or broken down (as in the case of being split into Form and Bark) varies but the Leaves, Flowers, Fruits combo is much used. Both in garden and wild plant treatments.
     

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