Many people get confused when it comes to conkers and chestnuts. They both look similar, and conkers is often called as horse chestnuts, and this confuses a lot of people. One thing we need to understand is that chestnuts are sweet and they are edible but conkers or horse chestnuts are poisonous, and they are not for eating purposes. Horse chestnuts may look very desirable to eat but it is toxic, and it can even cause paralysis. Both have a similar feature and people often mistake conkers for chestnuts.
The following are some of the differences between a chestnut and a horse chestnut:
Conkers trees are usually large, and they are more than 100 feet tall. The tree is dome-shaped, and during springtime, the tree has white flowers which have red dots at its base. While the chestnut trees grew only up to 40 feet and they also have white flowers, but it blossoms in June. The flowers of the chestnut tree produce a strong fragrance.
Both the trees are deciduous. Chestnut trees have yellowish green leaves which are shiny, and they turn completely yellow during the fall. Conkers leaves are greenish, but they are more coarse and large when compared to that of the sweet chestnut tree. The leaves of the horse chestnut trees become darker in colour when they mature.
The nuts of the chestnut tree are sweet, and they have two to three teardrop-shaped seeds. These nuts are brown, and they are also edible. Conkers on the other side are not edible as they have a chemical called aescin which is poisonous and it can cause vomiting and paralysis. Conker nuts are bitter and people often confuse conkers with chestnuts as both the nuts looks quite similar.
Conkers needs well-drained soil. It thrives on any soil type as long as it is well drained. The chestnut trees need moist and well-drained soil. Both the trees require lots of sunlight and moisture in the soil.
Conkers is popular in the South-eastern part of Europe, and it grows in mixed forests. Chestnuts are from the United States of America, and they are found in the Eastern hardwood forests.
Horse chestnuts are carried for good luck and charm. The British schoolchildren tie them to their shoelaces and play with them by smashing it hard on the floor.
It is common for people to confuse between both these seeds as they look very similar. The rich brown colour makes both the seeds quite appealing. Some may feel that they could roast it and eat, but conkers must never be consumed in any form. It must not even be fed to horses just because it is named as horse conkers. When conkers were given to pigs, they refused to eat them, but animals like deer and wild boar eat these seeds as their body is capable of breaking down the chemicals that are present in the seeds.