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 Aesculus subsp. var.  
Horse-chestnut 800.jpg
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Origin: N America, Eurasia
Exposure: sun
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USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones: vary by species
Flower features:
Sapindaceae > Aesculus var. ,

The genus Aesculus (pronounced /ˈɛskjʊləs/[1] or Template:IPA-en) comprises 13-19 species of woody trees and shrubs native to the temperate northern hemisphere, with 6 species native to North America and 7-13 species native to Eurasia; there are also several hybrids. Species are deciduous or evergreen. This genus has traditionally been treated in the ditypic family Hippocastanaceae along with Billia,[2] but recent phylogenetic analysis of morphological[3] and molecular data[4] has led to this family, along with the Aceraceae (Maples and Dipteronia), being included in the soapberry family (Sapindaceae).

Linnaeus named the genus Aesculus after the Roman name for an edible acorn. The Eurasian species are known as horse chestnuts while the North American species are called buckeyes. Some are also called white chestnut or red chestnut (as in some of the Bach flower remedies). In Britain, they are sometimes called conker trees because of their link with the game of conkers, played with the seeds, also called conkers. Aeschulus seeds were traditionally eaten, after leaching, by the Jomon people of Japan over about 4 millenia, until 300AD.[5]

Aesculus species are woody plants from 4 to 36m tall (depending on species), and have stout shoots with resinous, often sticky, buds; opposite, palmately divided leaves, often very large (to 65 cm across in the Japanese horse chestnut Aesculus turbinata). Flowers are showy, insect-pollinated, with four or five petals fused into a lobed corolla tube, arranged in a panicle inflorescence. Flowering starts after 80–110 growing degree days. The fruit matures to a capsule (fruit), 2–5 cm diameter, usually globose, containing 1-3 seeds (often erroneously called a nut (fruit)) per capsule. Capsules containing more than one seed result in seeds being flat on one side. The point of attachment of the seed in the capsule (hilum) shows as a large circular whitish scar. The capsule epidermis has "spines" (botanically: prickles) in some species, other capsules are warty or smooth; capsule splits into three sections to release the seeds.[6][7][8]

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Aesculus (ancient name of some oak or mast-bearing tree). Including Pavia. Hippocastanaceae. HORSE-CHESTNUT. BUCKEYE. Trees or sometimes shrubs, cultivated for shade and for the conspicuous bloom of some species.

Winter-buds large with several pairs of outer scales: lvs. opposite, long-petioled, digitate, deciduous; lfts. 6-9, serrate: fls. symmetrical in terminal panicles; calyx campanulate to tubular, unequally 4-5-toothed; petals 4-5, with long claws; stamens 5-9; ovary 3-celled, with 2-ovuled cells: fr. a large 3-valved caps., usually with 1 or 2 large seeds; seeds large, brown, with a large pale hilum.—About 20 species in N. Amer., E. Asia, Himalayas and Balkan Peninsula.

The buckeyes are deciduous trees and shrubs, with large, digitate leaves and red, white or yellow flowers in showy terminal panicles. They are cultivated for their showy flowers and handsome foliage, and some species make excellent shade trees. The large seeds are not edible.

Some species, as AE. Hippocastanum and AE. carnea are popular shade and street trees. They leaf early and soon give a dense shade. The shrubby species are well adapted for borders of larger groups or as solitary clumps on the lawn, particularly M. parviflora, with its slender panicles of white flowers; similar in habit and effect but with bright scarlet flowers, are AE. discolor, AE. georgiana and AE. splendens. Most of the species are hardy North, but the Californian and Himalayan species are suitable only for the southern states. They grow best in loamy and moist soil.

Propagation is by seeds to be sown in autumn or stratified, or by side-grafting and budding on common species, and the shrubby forms also by layers; AE. parviflora is propagated also by root-cuttings.

INDEX. Arguta, 8 heterophlla, 1. atrosanguinea, 11, 13. Hippocastanum, 1. austrina, 14. humilis, 13. Baumannii, 1. hybrida, 12. Briotii. 2. incisa, 1. Buckleyi, 8. indica, 7. californica, 4. intermedia,, 2. carnea, 2. laciniata, 1. chinensis, 5. lutea, 9. discolor, 14. Lyonii, 12. dissecta, 1. macrostachya, 16. Ellwangeri, 11. Memmingeri, 1. flava, 9. mollis, 14. flavescens, 14. nana, 13. flore-pleno, 1. octandra, 9, 14. georgiana, 10. ohioeneis, 8. glabra, 8. parviflora, 16. Henkelii, 1. Pavia, 11, 13, 14.

pendula, 13. plantierensis, 2. pumila, 1.

pyramidalis, 1. rubicunda, 2. rubra, 13.

Schirnhoferi. 1. sinensis, 3. splendens, 15.

sublaciniata. 13. turbinata, 3. umbraculifera, 1.

variegata, 1. versicolor, 12. Whitleyi. 11.

Wilsonii, 6. woerlitzensis, 11.

A. Winter-buds resinous: claws of petals not longer than calyx; stamens exserted. B. Lfts. sessile: petals 5; calyx campanulate, 5-lobed; stamens 5-8: fr. globular. (Hippocastanum). C. Lvs. glabrous beneath.

AE. arguta, Buckl. (AE. glabra var. arguta, Rob.). Allied to AE. glabra. Shrub, 1-5 ft.: lfts. 7-9, lanceolate to obovate-lanceolate, sharply and often doubly serrate, pubescent beneath: fls. light yellowish green. Texas.— Not in cult.; the plant that is cult. under this name is AE. glabra var. Buckleyi.—AE. Bushii. Schneid. Supposed hybrid of AE. glabra and discolor. Tree, to 30 ft.: lfts. oblong-obovate, finely and bluntly serrate, pubescent below: calyx pink; petals pink and yellow, glandular and villous at the margin: fr. slightly tuberculate. Ark. Hardy at the Arnold Arboretum.—AE. glaucescens, Serg. Related to AE. octandra. Shrub, to 10 ft. Lfts. larger,; labrous and glaucescent beneath: larger: fr. smaller.—AE. humilia, Koehne, not Lodd. Related to AE. discolor and possibly variety. Low shrub: lvs. tomentose beneath: fis. red and yellow. Of unknown origin.—AE. marylandica. Booth. Supposed hybrid of AE. glabra and octandra. Of unknown origin.—AE. neglecta, Lindl. Near AE. octandra, but petals veined with purple toward the base of the blade: the lfts. are glabrous beneath. Of unknown origin.—AE. Parryi, Gray. Similar to A. californica. Lfts. small, obovate, canescent-tomentose beneath: calyx 5-lobed. Calif.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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Pests and diseases

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The species of Aesculus include:


The most familiar member of the genus worldwide is the common horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum, native to a small area of the Balkans in southeast Europe, but widely cultivated throughout the temperate world. The yellow buckeye Aesculus flava (syn. A. octandra) is also a valuable ornamental tree with yellow flowers, but is less widely planted. Among the smaller species, the bottlebrush buckeye Aesculus parviflora also makes a very interesting and unusual flowering shrub. Several other members of the genus are used as ornamentals, and several horticultural hybrids have also been developed, most notably the red horse chestnut Aesculus × carnea, a hybrid between A. hippocastanum and A. pavia.


Pests and diseases




  1. Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. Hardin, JW. 1957. A revision of the American Hippocastanaceae I. Brittonia 9:145-171.
  3. Judd, WS, RW Sanders, MJ Donoghue. 1994. Angiosperm family pairs. Harvard Papers in Botany. 1:1-51.
  4. MG Harrington, KJ Edwards, SA Johnson, MW Chase. 2005. Phylogenetic inference in Sapindaceae sensu lato using plastid matK and rbcL DNA sequences. Systematic Botany. 30:366–382
  5. ISBN:0 521 40112 7 _The Living Fields_, by Harlan Jack Rodney, University Press, Cambridge, Great Britain,1995 :15 Harlan cites AkazawaT & AikensCM 1986 _Prehistoric Hunter-Gathers in Japan_ Univ. Toyko Press, and cites AikensCM & HigachiT1982 _Prehistory of Japan_ NY Academic Press.
  6. Hardin, JW. 1957. A revision of the American Hippocastanaceae I. Brittonia 9:145-171
  7. Hardin, JW. 1957. A revision of the American Hippocastanaceae II. Brittonia 9:173-195
  8. Hardin, JW. 1960. A revision of the American Hippocastanaceae V, Species of the Old World. Brittonia 12:26-38

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