City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

October 17, 2016

October 17th

Filed under: Guardhouse gate, Horsechestnut — canopus56 @ 6:21 pm

Horse, Nuts!

4:00 p.m. Cold rain fell for the previous night an into this morning. Then the front passed. The cold has re-accelerated leaf turning.

The Horsechestnut trees, another cultivar, at guardhouse gate parking lot have been unleashing their nuts for the last six days. The nuts are encased in spiny protective shells, called conkers, but these do not fall. The conkers split open and the chestnuts fall out, as one just has done, falling 20 feet and ending with a resounded thud on the roof of my car. The spiny outer conkers fall to the road later in the season. The parking lot is covered with tire crushed chestnuts. As noted on September 26th, the leaves of the horsechestnuts at the parking lot have turned differently than those up the canyon that have grown directly in or next to the stream. With more water, those horsechestnuts’ leaves have turned a bright golden yellow. When the wind (Oct. 14th and 16th) scoured the lower canyon of leaves, those horsechestnuts retained their bright garb. Horsechestnuts at picnic site 1, at mile 0.4 and mile 0.9 appear more bright than before because they now contrast against thickets of grey branches and not against green leaves.

The horsechestnut is an ornamental and is not a true chestnut. It is toxic to horses and man. Its use as an ornamental began in Germany, where it was planted over subterranean vaults that fermented lager beer. The horsechestnut has shallow roots, but provides shade that kept the underground beer vats cool.


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