Leaves unfolding from the sticky-bud of a horse chestnut tree

Horse Chestnut Sticky-Buds Opening

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We always used to call the over-wintering dormant leaf buds on horse chestnut trees “sticky buds”. The fat dark brown buds are literally covered with a protective film of sticky substance. As the buds open in spring the bright green leaves gradually emerge with a silky coat of fine threads covering and linking the folded leaves.

7 Replies to “Horse Chestnut Sticky-Buds Opening”

  1. These photos are beautiful. The sticky feeling of the buds comes through and you’ve shown their beauty. In my childhood in Tennessee my grandparents called the fruits of this tree (I don’t remember what they called the actual tree but it was not horse chestnut) buckeyes, maybe because of the resemblance of it to a brown shiny deer eye?) and would collect some to give me to keep in my pockets or bag, as good luck tokens. I still look for them in the fall and give them out though no one in Pennsylvania follows this tradition and I have to explain. I love the whole life cycle of a buckeye. Beautiful.

  2. This is fascinating, I see the article mentions the luck idea too! I never thought to look this up, as I thought the whole thing was a kind of folk wisdom. I have read the term “conkers” but other than vaguely realizing it was from the horse chestnut tree and nutlike, I did not go any further. I have one source for buckeyes here in my daily round, and I will be watching in the fall for them.

  3. I really like conkers and find them most attractive to look at and to touch, and cannot resist picking them up and taking them home. Sadly, I find that the beautiful shiny coat soon dries out and becomes dull and wrinkled.

  4. Yes, each year new buckeyes were needed, the luck had aged and so had they. I always thought of them as the elderly and the new fresh ones as babies – guess I saw them having a lifespan just like people.

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