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

Where to buy Aesculus hippocastanum

Plant calendar


Aesculus and wildlife

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 known to attract Bees
Is known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is known to attract Birds
Is known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Aesculus poisonous?

Aesculus causes an upset stomach. Its fruit is toxic.

Toxic to:
Is known to attract Dogs
Is known to attract People
No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock