Herb to Know: Horse Chestnut


| April/May 2006



Genus: Aesculus hippocastanum

• Zones 6 to 9

With a beauty all its own, this majestic ornamental tree is a powerful magnet for hummingbirds and humans alike.

A stroll through any well-landscaped park can be inspiring, but if you happen upon a horse chestnut tree displaying its showy panicles of pink flowers with white polka dots in late spring, the experience can be breathtaking.



The horse chestnut — a European native — belongs to a genus of about 15 species of deciduous shrubs and lofty trees. The common, or European, horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) can grow 70 to 100 feet tall with a dense canopy of foliage that casts deep shade. The smaller red horse chestnut (A. xcarnea) — so named for its reddish-pink blooms — is smaller in stature, but still grows to 30 to 40 feet.

Palmate leaves form the backdrop for beautiful blooms that adorn the tree like hundreds of foot-tall candelabras, dispensing nectar for nearby hummingbirds. Inside the prickly seedpods — round, leathery greenish fruits known as conkers — are several inedible glossy seeds emerging from their pods in fall. The fresh, bitter seeds are toxic unless properly processed.






mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: October 13-14 2018
Topeka, KS

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE