Why Do Conkers Only Grow In Autumn And Not At Other Times Of Year?


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Julii Brainard Profile
Julii Brainard answered
Because conkers are a nut, the fruit of the Common horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum).  And like most plants, Aesculus hippocastanum produces its fruit to be ripe in the late summer / early autumn.  This maximises its chances of being eaten by as many animals as possible, roving as far as possible.  Some of these animals will drop the seeds in the ground (or even deliverately bury them).  Which makes them primed to germinate and become saplings the next year.

In Britain the main animals that eat and store conkers are squirrels.  This is handy, as buried conkers -- we all know that squirrels like to store their food over winter by burying it, right? --- have a good chance of turning into new horse chestnut trees.

Opinion is divided about whether conkers are edible for people.  Best not to try them, really.  At the least they are too bitter, and are probably mildly poisonous.

Extract of Aesculus hippocastanum is used as a herbal remedy though, to improve circulation (read more).   Especially effective for hemorrhoids and varicose veins (they say).

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