This is another scary headline that doesn’t mean what it seems to mean from the titles. We do not risk a world without the conker tree and there is no way it can go extinct. After all it is easy to cultivate. Here is an example story to debunk:

'Alarming' extinction threat to Europe's trees (BBC)

They say

Ravaged by moths and disease, the horse chestnut is now classified as vulnerable to extinction.

The tree is among more than 400 native European tree species assessed for their risk of extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

About half face disappearing from the natural landscape.

The reader will naturally assume that this means the tree that we find in our streets and gardens. There is nothing in the article to suggest anything different.

However actually, this is about the native tree in the original range of the species. It doesn’t risk extinction in our gardens and streets, after all it is easy to cultivate.

Also the seeds of the wild populations of most (not all) trees can be preserved in seed banks. Horse chestnuts are one of the many species that can be preserved in this way.

The risk is for the native wild populations in Greece, Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia.

The purple areas in this map show where it has been introduced, and the yellow areas are where it originally grew, which still has a small native population.

Yale Nature Walk

Most of the original wild population is in protected areas but they are still threatened by landslides as the mountainous areas it lives in are developed for tourism. Also there are other anthropogenic pressures like mining.

The wild population is classified as vulnerable, the lowest risk level - roughly equivalent to a 10% risk of extinciton in a century.

There are less than 10,000 mature individuals left, and the population is fragmented and declining, with no subpopulation left with more than 1,000 trees. The largest population is in Greece with only 1,500 mature individuals over 98 subpopulations. There are less than 500 trees each in Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia.

A couple of pests threaten it with defoliation (losing leaves), the leaf miner moth, Cameraria ohridella, which reduces its chance of survival and regeneration and so reduces the wild population, and the fungus Phyllosticta sphaeropsoidea, which does not damage the tree but does make its leaves go brown and blotched.

Neither of these threaten the cultivated tree.

“While it does not affect tree health, it does afflict the appearance of horse chestnut trees, and can cause public concern.”

Horse chestnut leaf miner - Woodland Trust

There are some tropical trees that can’t be preserved as seeds, such as the mangoes. But most can be.

Horse chestnuts produce “recalcitrant seeds” because they are so large and it is not feasible to freeze dry an entire conker - it will break up because of the ice crystals.

However they can extract a tiny part of it called the “seed embryo” and this can be frozen, and is enough to regrow to a full tree when revived.

Extracting the embryo of a conker for cryopreseveration - Kew Gardens - see In pictures: Cryopreservation

The report itself is here:

Doomsday Debunked

back to top

Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears

If you are scared: Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears which also talks about health professionals and how they can help.

If in the middle of a panic attack, see

Useful links to bookmark

Tip, bookmark those links to search for debunks more easily. Here is a screenshot of my bookmarks

Facebook support group

Facebook group Doomsday Debunked has been set up to help anyone who is scared by these fake doomsdays.

Wiki Doomsday debunked wiki

If you need help

Do message me on Quora or PM me on Facebook if you need help.

There are many others in the group who are available to support scared people via PM and who can also debunk fake Doomsday “news” for you if you get scared of a story and are not sure if it is true. See our debunkers list

If you are suicidal don’t forget there’s always help a phone call away with the List of suicide crisis lines - Wikipedia