Aesculus hippocastanum or the Horse Chestnut is part of the Sapindaceae family of plants which also includes lychee. It is also called Horse Chestnut Buckeye, Conker tree, or Spanish Chestnut.
Aesculus hippocastanum is a large broad-crowned tree. It can grow up to 39m or 128ft. It is deciduous. Aesculus hippocastanum has a spreading dense canopy. It is native to the Balkans, more precisely to the Pindus Mountains. It is called Horse Chestnut due to the leaves looking like the Sweet Chestnut or Castanea sativa.
Aesculus hippocastanum foliage is opposite and palmately compound the leaflets could be as large as 30cm each and usually, there are 5 to 7 leaflets. The leaves turn reddish color in autumn.
Aesculus hippocastanum flower in spring. The flowers appear in panicles of up to 50 individual flowers. The flowers are creamy-white with a yellow spot. Over time, they change their color to red.
After flowers are done, Aesculus hippocastanum produces fruit. Each panicle produces just a few fruits. The fruit is a green and spiky capsule. Each capsule contains one seed or nut. The seeds are poisonous especially when they are fresh. They contain alkaloid saponins and glucosides and they should not be consumed.
The seed is used to treat chronic venous insufficiency. There are other clinical trials still in process. Aesculus hippocastanum is a symbol of the city of Kiev in Ukraine.
Place Aesculus hippocastanum where there is plenty of space. Locate it in the sun or partial shade. Plant it in average moist soil that is well-drained. Propagate by seed or grafting. Watch out for scale and leaf-mining moths as well as canker and leaf spot.