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Horse Chestnut Genus: Aesculus and Sweet Chestnut Genus: Castanea An article from "The Trees Of Old England" by Leo H.Grindon

Horse Chestnut Genus: Aesculus and Sweet Chestnut Genus: Castanea by Leo Hartley Grindon; Previously a Lecturer on Botany at the Royal School of Medicine, Manchester. Author of "Life: its Nature, Varieties, and Phenomena;" "British and Garden Botany;" " The Little Things of Nature;" "Echoes in Plant and Flower Life," and others.

Picture of the Horse Chestnut - Genus: Aesculus and Sweet Chestnut - Genus: Castanea

Horse Chestnut Genus: Aesculus and Sweet Chestnut Genus: Castanea A Sketch of the aspects, associations and uses of Horse Chestnut Genus: Aesculus and Sweet Chestnut Genus: Castanea which constitute the forests and give effect to the scenery of Great Britain.

Concerning the chestnut, it is merely necessary to speak of the differences which keep it distinct from the Aesculus, or horse-chestnut, neither of these noble productions of nature being met with in Britain except as ornaments of the park or pleasure-ground. For although the chestnut was introduced as far back as the time of the Romans, and has now become thoroughly at home (except as to the ripening of its fruit); it has not, like the elm and sycamore, taken its place in the wood and wilderness. Wherever met with, it is always obviously from the hand of the planter. As for the horse-chestnut, it appears to have been in England only some three centuries. Of the true chestnut, Castanea vesca, many magnificent examples occur in different parts, sufficiently venerable to give the perfect idea of "ancient Britons." They are still referable, however, to the origin spoken of. The differences in question are readily enumerated. In the "sweet" chestnut the leaves are simple and feather-veined; in the horse-chestnut they are septate. The flowers of the latter are produced in superb clusters, every corolla having its whiteness richly broken with patches of gold and crimson; those of the sweet chestnut, on the other hand, are destitute of the brightness we connect with the idea of blossom. They are unisexual also; the males growing in slender spikes, the females in prickly knobs.

The purpose we had in view at the beginning is now completed; namely, the giving some account of the forest and other large and commanding trees ordinarily met with in Great Britain. There are many more trees of a smaller description, and all have abundance of interesting and curious history and association, so that these chapters, were it desirable at the present time, might be trebled. Who, for instance, is unacquainted with the elder, the blossoming of which is a sign that summer is matured, and the fruit of which shows, in its blackness, that summer is over ? Then there are the wild pear, the wild apple, the wild medlar, and the wild cherry, trees mostly loaded in spring with snowy bloom. After these we find the guelder-rose, the tamarisk, the box, and the spindle-tree; the Frangula, the buckthorn, and the dogwood. The white-beam is remarkable for the snowy aspect of its foliage when stirred by the wind; the bag-nut for its chandeliers of pinky white in May, followed in autumn by round bags containing each a brilliantly-polished brown bead; The Bird Cherry (Prunus padus) is a species of cherry, native to northern Europe , completely covers itself with racemes of white flowers exhaling the odour of honey. Then there are the innumerable smaller kinds of willow and sallow; the holly, covered in winter with those glorious scarlet bracelets; and the hawthorn, or "May," so deservedly famed in verse. The sloe, though rarely attaining the dimensions of a tree, has likewise many claims upon our interest. So has the berbery; so has the sweet-gale; so have those very curious trees, the sea-buckthorn and the juniper; so have the hazel, the hornbeam, the arbutus, and the wayfaring-tree.

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Horse Chestnut Genus: Aesculus and Sweet Chestnut Genus: Castanea An article from "The Trees Of Old England" continued...

Horse Chestnut Genus: Aesculus and Sweet Chestnut Genus: Castanea

After those which stand independently, there are whole tribes of roses and brambles, the sweet-brier, the honeysuckle, and the clematis; and longer-living, and farther-reaching, and greener than any, the incomparable old ivy of the ruin and the aged tree. Another set, of still smaller dimensions, attracts us in the wild currants, the privet, and the whortleberry; here, too, we find the broom and prickly furze, with their myriads of golden butterflies. In truth, there is no absolute stopping-place. Trees are the maximum; between their majesty and the minimum there is so beautiful a descending scale of size and stature, that unless an arbitrary line be drawn, we cannot stop till we are abreast of the merest herb. Technically, even the wild thyme, that makes those lovely purple knolls on the grassy common, is a "shrub," for the branches, though only of the thickness of a needle, are woody and permanent, and the leaves endure throughout the winter.

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