This week the horse chestnut trees are in full bloom in Schenley Park.
Common horse chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum) are native to southeastern Europe but are planted widely in the U.S. for their beauty and shade. Their flowers are dramatic in 10″ tall clusters and their large leaves with seven leaflets provide lots of shade.
Up close, the ornate white flowers have spots in either yellow or pinkish-red. There’s a purpose behind the beauty.
When the flower is unfertilized the spot inside is yellow. After pollination the spot turns reddish to tell the bees, “Don’t waste your time on me.”
The flowers are color coded for the bees.
(photos by Kate St. John)