Friday, 1 October 2010

Conkers, kids and pathogens

A wet and blustery morning saw me sheltering not only from the elements but also from horse chestnut fruits (conkers to me and you) being hurled to the ground, vicious weapons whose hard brown bullets were wrapped in spiky green armour. The thousands of conkers that were strewn across path and pavement are being left alone by the children of 2010. When I was a lad (cue black and white film of happy children frolicking in a world safe from all danger), there would have been gangs roaming the streets to lay claim to Horse Chestnut trees and would have already stripped the trees in question. Too impatient to wait for nature to take its course, we would have hurled stones and sticks up into the branches to dislodge the conkers. Looking down at the unclaimed haul at my feet this morning, I thought that there was as much chance of that having happened back in the 1960s as there having been half-crowns strewn over the pavement. (History lesson: pre-decimalisation in 1971, a half-crown was a coin whose value today would be twelve and a half pence. It was big and silvery).

The horse chestnut trees round here are looking pretty sickly. I don't know whether or not they are still suffering from Bleeding Canker (a fungal pathogen) and from the actions of the leaf miner Cameraria ohridella, but something is getting to them after flowering.


Warren Baker said...

There is a conker tree outside the school where I work, conkers were strewn everywhere this morning, but only the parents picked them up :-)

The tree is also suffering from some form of leaf damage.

Steve Gale said...

Sign of the times Warren, this lack of interest in conkers. I bet the health and safety gurus are happy though...