Common Horse Chestnut

Arbor walk #64

Despite being widely planted as an easy-to-grow shade tree for streets and landscapes throughout the Midwest, the Horse Chestnut is actually originally native to the Balkan region of Europe. The tree features showy white flowers in spring which in summer transition into fruit, consisting of one or two horsechestnuts encased in a spiny husk.

Horse Chestnuts are actually part of the soapberry family and are entirely unrelated to chestnuts, which are part of the beech family. Like the closely related buckeyes, the fruit of these trees is not edible and may even be considered poisonous. On this particular specimen one can see the remains of an invasive Euonymus vine which had been growing on the tree. It is not uncommon to see many of these vines wrapped around the surface of a tree, causing damage to the tree and its bark; however, in this instance the Euonymus vine fully pierced through the heartwood at the base of the tree. Despite this, the tree recovered speedily once the vine was killed and is currently in relatively good health.

Name Common Horse Chestnut
Latin Name Aesculus hippocastanum
Type Native
Diameter 22.8″ dbh
Color of Leaf Light green spring, dark green summer, shades of yellow & brown fall
Shape of Leaf Palmate compound with 7 spreading ovate leaflets 4″-10″ long
Color of Flower White with red or yellow markings
Shape of Flower Upright terminal panicles midspring
Fruit Characteristics Nuts shiny dark brown with tan scar, ripen in the fall
Bark Characteristics Gray-brown to black broken into scaly plates
Foliage Type Deciduous

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