Sooke PocketNews recently printed an article, Eleven Horse Chestnut trees will take root in the trail corridor between Church and Townsend on Wednesday. The District will be contributing to the planting of these trees in recognition of National Tree Day, on Wednesday September 27, 2017. The trees will be planted at 4:00 p.m.
SPN Readership—whose informative comments are always welcome—presented two concern: First, Horse Chestnuts are poisonous to both people and dogs. Second, they can be considered a bear attractant.
We looked into those claims. Both are correct.
Horse Chestnuts are poisonous
We went out looking to see if the nuts on the Chestnut trees already planted on the trail corridor matched the images that we found while researching Horse Chestnuts. We found two types of pods: the regular Horse Chestnut (pictured, top), and what appears to be a Red Horse Chestnut (pictured, below).
Both are poisonous to people and dogs when consumed; they are not dangerous to touch.
These trees are widely cultivated in streets and parks in places with temperate climate, and are common in areas throughout Sooke as well as in other local areas like Victoria and Esquimalt. They produce hermaphroditic flowers in the springtime.
If ingested by a humanoid, see medical attention. According to WebMD (under the “Side Effects” tab), “Raw horse chestnut seed, bark, flower, and leaf are UNSAFE and can even cause death when taken by mouth by adults or children. Signs of poisoning include stomach upset, kidney problems, muscle twitching, weakness, loss of coordination, enlarged eye pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, paralysis, and stupor. Accidental ingestion of horse chestnut requires prompt medical attention. Children have been poisoned by drinking a tea made from the leaves and twigs or eating seeds.”
If ingested by your dog, seek veterinarian attention. According to the Paws Dog Daycare website, “Avoid Further Ingestion of the Plant and consult a veterinarian. Remove any existing plant material from the animal’s mouth, induce vomiting with a 3% peroxide solution, then flush the mouth thoroughly with water. If it is suspected that a large quantity was ingested then gastric lavage and activated charcoal may be required. … Consult a Veterinarian. With swift diagnosis and treatment nearly all animals will survive without permanent damage.”
Generally speaking, if you’re unfamiliar with wild foods (mushrooms, berries, and chestnuts all come to mind), the rule of thumb is: Don’t put it in your mouth!
To find out what edible chestnuts look like, visit the Tree-Species Blog online.
Bears (and deer and boars) eat Horse Chestnuts
Bears, who need to consume 20,000 caleries a day in the fall, do enjoy snacking on these Chestnuts. Deer enjoy them too. Boars are not generally a (roaming) problem in Sooke. We found this video on Youtube (not from Sooke). According to the person who posted it, the bear “stayed all day, and came back next morning.”
When we went seeking the various chestnuts for this write-up, there were very few fallen chestnuts on the ground. Possibly the deer are getting their first, or the District.
So, there you have it. These Horse Chestnut trees are already planted along the trail corridor between Church and Townsend. There are at least two varieties. One is definitely a Horse Chestnut, and the other is a variant we believe is called the Red Horse Chestnut. Both are poisonous. And, they are bear attractants. These trees are common decorative plants in places with moderate temperatures, frequently lining streets, and flowering their little hermaphrodite hearts out every spring.
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