Bonus! Beautiful health.

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In September 2011, I did a double-take:

I didn’t think I was ever going to see this again.

What is it? A healthy-looking horse chestnut tree.

A decade ago, when horse chestnut leaves started to turn in the autumn, it was a show of brilliant Rastafarian colours. Since then, most of the horse chestnut trees in the Cambridge area have been afflicted with something that turns the leaves brown in the summer and the show never happens. I’ve seen reference to fungus, bacteria, and leaf miner moths; I’m sure the leaf miners are active in this region, but I don’t know if it’s the main problem of all the trees.

Here’s a shot from September 2002:

Green and luscious. Not luscious for eating. I should find a better word, or stop thinking so literally…

Those fantastic spiny things contain the horse chestnuts, or conkers (these have cultural significance in the UK), for anyone reading who hasn’t seen this before.

One from October 2002:


Here’s one from mid-June 2011:

Bleh. Looks like leaf miners. If every spot on those leaves represents one caterpillar, that’s a lot of caterpillars!

To make this post complete, I should really go and take a picture of an average-looking horse chestnut tree in September 2011. For now, just imagine all the leaves dry, shrivelled, and totally brown, next to other kinds of trees that haven’t really got going on changing their colours.

I guess it’s only a matter of time for this guy too, but I’m taking the 2011 show as a bonus…