Sunday, May 09, 2010

Aesculus x carnea, Red Horse Chestnut

A hybrid between the European Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum and a small American tree, the Red Buck-Eye Aesculus pavia. The hybrid isn't very well-formed, the flowers vary a lot in colour and development and the leaves are always a bit warped and sticky with aphids. But they do make a nice Fleurs du Mal study, the pink-striped anthers breaking to chocolate. Some flowers (though none in these pictures) have long white snaky stigmas too. Shaded flowers often lack any red colouring.

Red Horse Chestnut (as Alan Mitchell vengefully noted) "suffers from a canker, so is fortunately not long-lived". But since he wrote those words, bleeding canker has infected most of the European Horse Chestnut trees in the UK.



At 6:07 am, Blogger Vincent said...

I've seen some of these about. But each year I want to study the blossoms of Aesculus hippocastanum to test the theory I read about on the Net to explain the colour variation between adjacent blossoms within a cluster - that they change colour after bee visits. So far, I have failed. It would require repeated visits to the same tree and a cluster of blossoms at eye level, and calm days to take close-up photos without rocking in the wind.

I don't believe the theory anyway, but everything in Nature has its back story. Or so you would think, till you remember the random throws of the dice which produce hybrids, as in your example of luridly decadent colouring


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