Thursday 7 October 2010


In the states, they appear to be called buckeyes (so I suppose I'm a week late by that reckoning), but we call them CONKERS!

A few facts about conkers:

  • they are the seed of the horse chestnut tree
  • the Latin name is Aesculus hippocastanum
  • unlike their cousin, the sweet chestnut, you can't roast these and eat them; they will give you a nassssssty belly-ache!
  • having said that, properly prepared, they are believed to be beneficial for slow moving vein conditions (such as varicous veins) and also for hemorrhoids.
  • they form within a shell which is soft inside, but the hard outer is usually mega spiky - OUCH!!
  • the seeds ripen in the early autumn and are collected for the game of conkers (which is particularly popular amongst school children)

Conkers is a game, mainly played in Britain, Ireland and many former British colonies. It consists of a competition between two conkers, each of which has had a hole bored through it and has been threaded on a string approximately 10 - 12 inches long (shoe laces are very popular). One conker is held up at arms length, dangling on the end of its lace. The other conker is swung to strike it. This continues with conker owners taking turns until one conker breaks and falls from the lace.

The winning conker scores a point. If the two conkers are both new, the winner now becomes a one-er. However, scores are cumulative. If my conker was a none-er, but my opponants was already a five-er, my winning conker would now be a six-er (the collected score from the beaten conker, plus the point for this match!) As a child, I once had a conker which was a hundred and one-er. I gained this with a brand new conker. It beat the school champion hundred-er! Unfortunately, in so doing, it got extremely battered, and my next opponant very quickly took the glory as a hundred and two-er!

The winning conker is almost always the one which is hardest. Technique plays only a minimal part in the battle. As a result, several methods of hardening would be tried. I have known people to soak their conkers in vinegar, bake them for a short while in a warm oven, or even keep them for a year until they become dried out and shrivelled.

I confess to trying out both of the first two methods, but never had the patience for number three. Besides, half of the attraction of owning a conker is the beauty of the shell and the fun of collecting them; like pockets full of treasure, smooth and round and shiny, golden brown!

To C what other treasures there are at Alphabe-Thursday, pop over to Jenny's.


  1. Nice shots ! when I was a child I did little figures out of them.

    BTW we are more or less sitting in the same boat, in Belgium the weather is like in the UK ! It's quicker for me to go from Brussels to London than from Brussels to Li├Ęge, lol !

  2. The last game of conkers I played took forever! :-/

    There's a horse chestnut tree just outside the house, but the school kids always get to the conkers before me.

  3. how does Mother Nature getting to shine like that? I'd love to have that polish for my furniture!! I love autumn & the appearance of conkers tells me it is here!

  4. I'd never heard of the game or seen conkers up close! I love it when time tested games still exist, using something that you don't have to buy in a store!

    There's a drawing on my Wed post you might enjoy.

  5. That's interesting to learn about conkers. They look so cool that I would like to fill a crystal bowl with them for my house.


  6. I have nver heard of this game before. It would be dangerous to play with my toddler.

  7. Oh Now I know what conkers are! thanks for sharing

  8. interesting game ... we just used to have chestnut wars with them ... and that game really hurt!

  9. I love them when the spikes are gone. So smooth and shiny. Is the game played with the spiky or smooth ones?

  10. I've never in my life heard of conkers, so I'm glad you posted this!

  11. We call them conkers too! The Great Dane collects them and puts them in the deepest corners of the house because they are said to repel spiders.

  12. What a charming link to Alphabe-Thursday's letter "C"!

    We call them Buckeyes. At the last home I had in Ohio we had an enormous tree that showered the yard and the roof in bushels and bushels of them.

    Our counters would be adorned with glowing bowls of chestnut brown. I always thought if I could find a purpose for them...cattle feed or something...I could retire a rich woman.

    Thanks for the wonderful link.

    I really enjoyed my stop here today.