Randalls Island Park Alliance

Like Fat Candles

In General Plants on May 14, 2012 at 5:41 pm

  By Dianne Crary

We’ve planting new tress on and off the past month on Randalls.   I’ve noticed there are many beautiful old trees on the island.

On the way down to ball field 70,  I was arrested by the sight of a mature horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) in full bloom on the left side of the road.  This tree must be at least 70 feet tall with a rounded canopy. It dominates the area with its beauty.

The light green compound leaves* with seven leaflets radiating from a single point give a fluffy look to the tree.  However, it is the flowers that stand out at this time of year that catches the eye.  The flower heads are borne upright on sturdy stems and the panicles* of flowers can be up to 12 inches long.  They look like fat candles sticking up in the air and can be seen from quite a distance.

Yet each individual flower on the panicle is very delicate and has 4-5 undulating, white petals with a yellow blotch at the base that will eventually turn red.  The long stamen with their reddish anthers adds another spot of color.  Unlike the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) the chestnuts from this tree are not edible.

If you coming to the Flow.12 celebration on the island, you will pass this chestnut on your way to Michael Johnson’s piece.

“The ordinary chestnut can beget a sickly and reluctant laugh, but it takes a horse chestnut to fetch the gorgeous big horse-laugh”
Mark Twain

*compound leaf has a fully subdivided blade, each leaflet of the blade separated along a main or secondary vein.

*panicle is a compound raceme, a loose, much-branched indeterminate inflorescence with pedicellate flowers(and fruit) attached along the secondary branches; in other words , a branched cluster of flowers in which the branches are racemes.

From Wikipedia.


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