A NORTH Yorkshire arboretum is encouraging conker fans to help save the native horse chestnut tree by planting the chestnuts instead of playing with them.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum, near Bedale, is campaigning for the conservation of the horse chestnut tree as it is in serious decline.

A recent report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has highlighted the threat to some of Britain’s native and most treasured trees, amongst them the horse chestnut is now listed as vulnerable to extinction.

Faith Douglas, curator of Thorp Perrow, said: "Along with some other well-known trees like the ash, elm and rowan this wonderful tree is in serious decline.

"We have the most wonderful horse chestnuts and at this time of the year conkers are everywhere. Our advice would be to plant conkers, not just to play conkers. You can grow them in a pot and when the seedling starts getting too big, hand them back and we will plant it in our arboretum for it to grow into the mighty trees."