The Common Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is native to South East Europe but can be found in many parts of Europe as well as in many parks and cities in the United States and Canada. It grows into a large tree with a impressive domed crown. Thth 5-6 leaflets that fan out around a center. The tree has very distinct white flowers in the spring that look a little like candles. The seeds are slightly poisonous and can cause sickness when eaten. When the leaves of the horse chestnut fall, the stalk breaks away from the twig it was attached to. The species epithet is a literal translation of the Latin name for “horse chestnuts”. As they detach, the stalk leaves a scar on the twig which is said to perfectly resemble the shape of a horseshoe. Introduced to Britain in 1615. Winter buds are large, red-brown and sticky. This tree differs from all native Buckeyes by having seven leaflets, large sticky buds and very spiny fruit husks. The genus name is that of a kind of oak bearing edible acorns and applied by Linnaeus to this plant.
Common name: Common Horse Chestnut, Candle Tree, Conker Tree
Scientific Name (family and order): Aesculus hippocastanum L. (Sapindaceae, Sapindales)
Species Origin: Albania, N. Greece
New Jersey Status: USDA Introduced
Habit: 60 -80’ high x 50’ wide; bole 1 – 2 ½’ diameter.
Habitat: Zones 4 -7. Mountains woods.
Trunk/Stem: Bark red-brown or gray scaly.
Leaves: Deciduous, Palmately Compound, Opposite. Palmately compound with five to seven obovate, sharply toothed unstalked leaflets. Leaflets 12 “ long x 2-5” wide; sharply pointed (mucronate) tip dark green usually turning yellow in autumn. Compound leaf on long stalk
Flowers: Perfect. Cream-yellow blotched-yellow becoming blotched red;each 1” long; bell-shaped with five unequal sized, fringed petals, in large conical upright panicles, 12” long; blooming in late spring. Spots inside flowers turn from yellow to reddish after pollination. Malodorous.
Fruits and seeds: Rounded, three-parted leathery globular dehiscent capsule; spiny and green capsule with thick husk and sharp prickles; up to three glossy brown seeds with a pale scar on one side (seed distinctive from Castanea). Seed poisonous.
Introduced to Britain in 1615. Winter buds are large, red-brown and sticky. This tree differs from all native Buckeyes by having seven leaflets, large sticky buds and vey spiny fruit husks. The genus name is that of a kind of oak bearing edible acorns and applied by Linnaeus to this plant. The species epithet is a literal translation of the Latin name for “horsechestnuts”.