Sunday, 4 May 2014

Horse Chestnut

When fully grown, there are few trees in the British Isles to match the stately beauty of the Horse Chestnut. Familiar to all as the humble conker tree, they grow to an impressive height of well over 100ft and have the most wonderful compound leaves made of 5 -7 leaflets.  But it is the 'candelabra' flower spikes which make the best show.
Each individual flower is predominantly white, but with a delightful splash of pink or yellow in the centre.  Up to 50 flowers will be produced on each 'panicle' but usually only between 1 and 5 will develop into the familiar, green, spiny fruits we know so well.  Close up, the flowers are a thing of great beauty and one which can easily be missed when so far up in the tree.
While photographing this lovely flower, a Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) was busy feeding from them.
One of our more common species of Bee, they nest in old bird's nests, mouse runs and even abandoned bird boxes. A social bee, they live in colonies of up to 200 workers.  As busy as a bee!
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