Conkers explained: Do they keep spiders away? What tree are they from? And are they poisonous to eat?

Georgia Chambers
vjkombajn/Pixabay

It's getting to that time of year again when the nights start drawing in and we hesitantly dust off our winter coats.

Many of us have fond memories of taking autumn walks and collecting conkers as a child, racing each other as to who could find the most.

We may have been used to preparing our conkers for battle in the classic playground game, but what else are conkers good for?

Here's everything you need to know, including myths about conkers debunked:

What tree do conkers come from?

Conkers come from the horse chestnut tree. The name 'conker' is also applied to the seed and to the tree itself. Horse chestnut trees can grow to a height of around 40m and can live for up to 300 years.

They're rarely found in the UK woodlands but are common in parks, gardens, streets and village gardens - hence why you can find plenty of conkers in the countryside. Conkers (seeds) are surrounded by a spiky green case.

Do conkers keep spiders away?

Do conkers really keep spiders at bay? No one knows for sure... (dev-leigh/Unsplash )

For years, people have been leaving horse chestnuts around their homes to deter spiders from taking up residence.

Unfortunately, there's no proof that conkers actually keep spiders at bay.

It's believed that conkers contain a noxious chemical that repels spiders, but no one has been able to prove it.

Are conkers poisonous to eat?

Despite being called horse chestnuts, conkers can actually be mildly poisonous to some animals.

Other animals, such as deer and wild boar, can safely consume them.

Because of their high toxicity level, conkers are unfit for human consumption. We do use extracts in shampoos and body washes, though.