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Plant Profile:European Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Native to the Balkans, this deciduous tree is a member of the soapberry family, Sapindaceae, that also includes maple, lychee, and buckeye. It has a deep taproot and grows up to 75′ tall with spread up to 65′. The palmate compound leaves are 24″ across and have 5-7 ovate to oblong leaflets that are 4-10″ long. They are light green in spring, mature to dark green in summer, and turn an uninteresting yellow to brown in the fall. In spring, terminal panicles appear that are 4-12″ long and composed of 20-50 flowers. The flowers are white with a yellow throat speckled with red. One to five flowers per panicle give rise to a globular fruit that consists of 1-2 seeds (horsechestnuts) in a leathery, brown husk that is 1-3″ long and spiny. The seeds are shiny, dark brown and bear a pale round scar at the base. They are poisonous, unlike chestnuts that are produced by an unrelated tree (Castanea) belonging to a different plant family. European horsechestnuts can be beautiful park or street trees if their foliage does not deteriorate during the summer. The genus name, Aesculus, is the Latin word for a species of oak with edible nuts, so is a misnomer for this plant. The specific epithet, hippocastanum, is from the Greek word hippos meaning horse and the Latin word castanea meaning the chestnut tree of Virgil

Type: Deciduous tree

Outstanding Feature: Flowers, shade

Form: Pyramidal with oval to rounded crown

Growth Rate: Medium to rapid

Bloom: Panicles of white flowers with yellow throats speckled with red in spring

Size: 50-75′ H x 40-65′ W

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 3-8

Care: Protect from wind and drought

Pests and Diseases: Bagworms, Japanese beetles, leaf miner, scale; anthracnose, bleeding canker, Guignardia leaf blotch, powdery mildew

Propagation: Fresh seed (short viability)

Outstanding Selections:

‘Baumennii’

‘Wisselink’

Photo Credits: Wikipedia