Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Environment, Dead Fish and Horse Chestnut


Horse Chestnut

Horse chestnut and to the right Sweet chestnut


Soapwort

It has been a mystery for years in the town Kolding in East Jutland. The environment technicians of the municipality wondered, why dead fish were found each autumn in a brook near town, but a common citizen drew the attention to that the death of the fish always happens, when the chetnut-fruits fall down. This indicates that it is that simple as that: chestnut trees are the reason, why about 300 fish in Skanderup Brook died in the week-end.

Close to the brook is a chestnut-avenue - it is the horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum, which is related to soapwort. They both contain saponin, which is poisonous to fish.

The sweet chestnut or marron, Castanea sativa is from another family ( fagaceae).

Probably it is caused by that the chestnuts are crushed by cars driving by, and a heavy shower means that the poisonous stuff from the crushed fruits is flushed down into the brook with the rain water, says the environment technician. After having examined the subject, he found out that North American Native tribes have used the saponin to catch fish.

But the trees will probably not be cut down. They still work on how to solve the problem next year in the environment section in Kolding.

North America:
Fish poisoned by saponin become stupefied and float to the surface where they can easily be collected. Indigenous tribes across the Americas used saponin poisons from many plants.
Survival Skills of the North American Indians.


photo horse chestnut & soapwort: grethe bachmann /photo sweet chestnut: vestrehus.dk)

6 comments:

Wanda..... said...

Really enjoyed and learned something from your informative post and link, Grethe. Three plants grow on the property here, that American Indians used in catching fish; black walnut, polk and buckeyes!

Thyra said...

Thanks Wanda for the useful information. I guess, it is possible to see a black walnut in our botanical garden. I googled and saw that polk is what we call kermesbær, not native to DK, but a popular garden plant. Horse chestnut is called buckeyes in North America. And you've got those three plants where you live.

The Native Americans were wise people , they knew about nature.

Grethe `)

Teresa Evangeline said...

Yet again, you've enlightened me about that mystery tree growing in my own yard - the horse chestnut, or buckeye. I had no idea that the NA people used them in such a fashion. The world, and all it offers us naturally, continues to amaze me.

Thyra said...

Dont you think it is a beautiful tree. I love chestnut trees. I did not know either, they were poisonous like that. I often take a chestnut in my pocket, when I pass a chestnut tree at this time of the year. It is said to be good for gouts! Although I don't have gouts, but you'll never know!

I'm so impressed by the Native Americans. We can learn much from them about nature and taking care of nature. And much of what we learn in these years come to us via google. We are navigators under the google stars, Teresa! Go sit under your chestnut tree....!`)
Grethe

CherylK said...

Chestnut trees are indeed beautiful. I did not know that the horse chestnut is poisonous, though. Wow! So sad about the fish dying. I do hope they can figure out a solution.

I've always been proud of American Indians. They were treated so poorly and yet they were such good stewards of the earth...took just what they needed and no more.

Thyra said...

Yes, I did not know this about the horse chestnut either. Maybe they have got the same problem in other places without knowing what it is!

I admire the Native Americans so much. As you say they really took care of the land and only took what they needed. Something indicates that this also happened among other ancient and earlier people.
We do not behave well today.
Grethe.