East facing, north facing, south facing, west facing
Acidic / Boggy / Chalky / Alkaline / Clay / Heavy / Moist / Well Drained / Light / Sandy
Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut tree or 'conker tree') is a large-growing deciduous tree with hard, rounded, shiny dark brown fruits, known as conkers. It has large, flat leaves up to 30cm long, made up of five to seven leaflets. Flowers are borne in late spring and early summer, in conical panicles made up of many small flowers which are white, fringed at the edges, and marked with pink. Once pollinated, the flowers develop fruit: roughly spherical spiny green cases, each containing one shiny brown conker. In winter, you can identify identify Aesculus hippocastanum by its smooth twigs and sticky, oval, dark red buds.
Its common name 'horse chestnut' could have arisen for several reasons. The fruits contain an anti-inflammatory substance called aescin and were once given to horses as a medicine. Another reason could be that the fallen leaves leave a horseshoe-shaped scar on the twig.
Aesculus hippocastanum grows up to 25m tall with a spread of up to 20m, and therefore isn’t suitable for gardens except large, woodland gardens. Over recent years, Aesculus hippocastanum trees in much of the UK have suffered from several pests and diseases, including horse chestnut scale, leaf miner, and canker.
Advice on buying Aesculus hippocastanum
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Aesculus hippocastanum grows into a very large tree so make sure you have enough room for it
Aesculus hippocastanum may be available from garden centres but you're more likely to find it availale online
Always check trees for signs of disease or damage before planting
Aesculus is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies/moths and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant, has nectar/pollen rich flowers and provides shelter and habitat.
Is Aesculus poisonous?
Aesculus causes an upset stomach. Its fruit is toxic.