Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mama has told me today that they've planted new chestnut trees on Khreshchatyk, replacing some of the old ones that seemed to be dying. This is really good news.

The newly-planted trees are 15 years old, which means they'll be blooming as early as next spring. Hopefully.

For the past few years, Khreshchatyk looked kind of ugly not only because of the crazy parking lot in the middle of the sidewalk, but also because of the chestnut trees that grew depressingly rusty by mid-summer.

By the way, what we have in Kyiv, are they called chestnut trees or buckeyes? I think it's the latter, but I wasn't aware of this until a friend who studied at Columbus, Ohio, told me so.


  1. To answer your "buckeye" question quickly, the new Kyiv chestnut trees are, I would guess, probably European chestnuts (Castanea sativa) hybridized with Japanese chestnuts (Castanea crenata) to make the European chestnut trees more disease-resistant. The nuts of European and Japanese chestnuts are edible and are historical delicacies. The horsechestnut or "buckeye" (Aesculus glabra) is unrelated to the European/Japanese chestnut and has an inedible nut. The "buckeye" is popular in Columbus, Ohio, because it is associated with Ohio State University (located in Columbus) and with the State of Ohio (capital is Columbus, Ohio). Sorry for the long post.

  2. Wow, thank you, James! :)

    But I think that our chestnuts are not edible - though they are used for medicinal purposes.

    Or were used when I was a kid: at school, before 1986, at least, we were supposed to bring chestnuts to school every fall. Papa used to take me to Lukyanivske cemetery and we'd gather a huge bag of chestnut nuts there - and also visit the graves of some of our relatives... I used to turn in the most chestnuts in our class.

    As for recycled paper, which we were also supposed to turn in at least twice a year, I was one of the worst - because my father used to exchange all the old newspapers for new books...

    Makes me both very sad and happy to remember this...

    Thanks again!

  3. Quick correction regarding Kyiv chestnuts: The new Kyiv chestnut trees may very well be European horsechestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum), the flower of which is the city-flower of Kyiv, and the nuts of which, although apparently inedible by humans, can be used to manufacture the glycoside "aesculin" (called esculin in the U.S.) which is used to thin the blood to prevent blood clots (anticoagulation). In the U.S., esculin is now considered to be homeopathic medicine and not safe for scientific clinical use (I think). My original confusion of "buckeyes" with European horsechestnuts was my mistake.

  4. Hey, if they plant enough of these trees, perhaps they will keep some more cars off the sidewalks...

  5. My students recently told me about the makulatura-for-books system and I thought, wouldn't it be great for the environment (and traffic) if everyone had to collect a ton of scrap metal before they could buy a car?

  6. The guy wants us to like him. He wants the chestnut tree, Kyiv's hallmark, to do the trick. I can see him hiding behind those healthier chestnut trees, now that the prospect of early mayoral elections is such a pain in the ass.