Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum
) is a medium to large deciduous tree from the soapberry (Sapindaceae) family, that is well-known for producing horsechestnuts. The tree is native to the Balkans, and is most commonly planted as a shade and ornamental tree with an upright, oval-rounded crown. Horsechestnut is closely related to Buckeye (Aesculus) trees
Horse chestnut characteristics:
- Tree type: Ornamental and shade tree.
- Mature height: 50 to 75 feet
- Crown (shape): Oval to rounded shape
- Leaves:Palmately compound, dark green leaves; 5-7 obovate leaflets that are 4 to 10 inches in length; doubly serrated on t he margins. In the fall, the leaves turn bright yellow, gold and brown before they fall from the tree for the winter.
- Flowers: Beautiful, fragrant, oblong clusters of white flowers with a blotch of yellow to reddish color at their base; bloom in early to mid-May.
- Bark: Dark brown, scaly; exfoliating as it ages; orange inner bark
- Fruit:The fruit produced are horse chestnuts--which are covered with a brown husk and hair-like spines which remain until the fruit ripens and splits open.
Horse chestnut seeds and twigs contain aescin, a complex mixture of saponins, which can be toxic to horses if ingested.