Common Horsechestnut

From - Plant Encyclopedia and Gardening wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
 Aesculus hippocastanum subsp. var.  Common Horse-chestnut, European horse chestnut, �Horse chestnut
Foliage and flowers
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
30m 15m
Height: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 30 m
Width: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 15 m
Lifespan: perennial
Origin: SE Europe
Poisonous: seeds toxic
Bloom: early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, mid summer, late summer
Exposure: sun, part-sun
Water: moist, moderate, dry
Features: deciduous, flowers
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 6 to 9
Sunset Zones: 1-10, 12, 14-17, 32-43
Flower features: orange, yellow, white
Hippocastanaceae > Aesculus hippocastanum var. ,

Aesculus hippocastanum is a large deciduous tree, commonly known as Horse-chestnut or Conker tree.

It is native to a small area in the mountains of the Balkans.[1] It is widely cultivated throughout the temperate world.

It grows to 36 m tall, with a domed crown of stout branches, on old trees the outer branches often pendulous with curled-up tips. The leaves are opposite and palmately compound, with 5-7 leaflets; each leaflet is 13-30 cm long, making the whole leaf up to 60 cm across, with a 7-20 cm petiole. The flowers are usually white with a small red spot; they are produced in spring in erect panicles 10-30 cm tall with about 20-50 flowers on each panicle. Usually only 1-5 fruit develop on each panicle; the fruit is a green, softly spiky capsule containing one (rarely two or three) nut-like seeds called conkers or horse-chestnuts. Each conker is 2-4 cm diameter, glossy nut-brown with a whitish scar at the base.[2]

Cultivation for its spectacular spring flowers is successful in a range of climatic conditions provided summers are not too hot, with trees being grown as far north as Edmonton, Alberta,[3] the Faroe Islands,[4] and Harstad, Norway. In more southern areas, growth is best in cooler mountain climates.

The nuts, especially those that are young and fresh, are slightly poisonous, containing alkaloid saponins and glucosides. Although not dangerous to touch, they cause sickness when eaten.

A decidious Tree growing to 30m by 15m at a fast rate.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Aesculus hippocastanum, Linn. COMMON HORSE-CHESTNUT. Large tree, 60-80 ft.: lfts. 5-7, sessile, cuneate-obovate, acuminate, obtusely serrate, nearly glabrous: panicles 8-12 in. long, very showy; fls. white, tinged with red, 3/4in. long: fr. echinate. May. N. Greece, Bulgaria. — Many garden forms; the most important are: Var. Baumannii, Schneid. (var. flore-pleno, Lem.), with double white fls. Var. Schirahoferi, Rosenth., with double yellowish red fls. Var. pumila, Dipp., dwarf form. Var. umbraculifera, Rehd., with compact round head. Var. pyramidalis, Nichols., with compact, narrow, pyramidal head. Var. laciniata, Leroy (var. dissecta, Hort., var. heterophylla, Hort.), lfts. laciniate. Var. incisa, Dipp. Lfts. short and broad, deeply and doubly serrate to incisely lobed. Var. Henkelii, Henkel, is little different, only the lfts. are narrower and the habit more pyramidal. Var. variegata, Loud., lvs. variegated with yellow. Var. Memmingeri, Bean. Lvs. sprinkled with white.—The horse-chestnut is one of the most popular of shade trees on the continent of Europe, and is also much planted along roads and in parks and private grounds in this country. It is particularly adaptable for bowers and places where seats are desired, as the top stands heading-in and makes a very dense shade. It is the first of all shade trees to burst into leaf. When smaller, more formal trees are desired, var. umbraculifera should be planted. The double-fld. forms are to be recommended for the longer duration of their fls. and for the absence of the fr. which is of great, often annoying, attraction to the small boy. In dry situations, the planting of the horse-chestnut should be avoided, as the foliage is likely to suffer, particularly in dry seasons, from drought and heat.

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.


It is hardy to zone 3 and is frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Prefers a deep loamy well-drained soil but is not too fussy tolerating poorer drier soils[11, 200]. Tolerates exposed positions and atmospheric pollution[200]. A very ornamental and fast-growing tree[1, 4], it succeeds in most areas of Britain but grows best in eastern and south-eastern England[200]. Trees are very hardy when dormant, but the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. The flowers have a delicate honey-like perfume[245]. Trees are tolerant of drastic cutting back and can be severely lopped[200]. They are prone to suddenly losing old heavy branches[98]. The tree comes into bearing within 20 years from seed[98]. Most members of this genus transplant easily, even when fairly large[11].


Seed - best sown outdoors or in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[11, 80]. The seed germinates almost immediately and must be given protection from severe weather[130]. The seed has a very limited viability and must not be allowed to dry out. Stored seed should be soaked for 24 hours prior to sowing and even after this may still not be viable[80, 113]. It is best to sow the seed with its 'scar' downwards[130]. If sowing the seed in a cold frame, pot up the seedlings in early spring and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.

Pests and diseases




  1. Euro+Med Plantbase Project: Aesculus hippocastanum
  2. Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  3. Edmonton
  4. Højgaard, A., Jóhansen, J., & Ødum, S. (1989). A century of tree planting on the Faroe Islands. Ann. Soc. Sci. Faeroensis Supplementum 14.

External links

blog comments powered by Disqus
Personal tools
Bookmark and Share