Horse chestnut trees in Spring. Getty Images

Aesculus hippocastanum

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Fruits
Fruits

Plant does not fruit in January

Plant does not fruit in February

Plant does not fruit in March

Plant does not fruit in April

Plant does not fruit in May

Plant does not fruit in June

Plant does not fruit in July

Plant does not fruit in August

Plant does fruit in September

Plant does fruit in October

Plant does not fruit in November

Plant does not fruit in December

  • Botanical name: Aesculus hippocastanum
  • Plant Type: Tree, Deciduous
Flower colour:

Pink

White

Foliage colour:

Green

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.

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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

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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

How to grow Aesculus hippocastanum

  • Plant size

    25m height

    20m spread

  • Aspect

    North facing, south facing, east facing, west facing

  • Soil type: Acidic / boggy / chalky / alkaline / clay / heavy / moist / well drained / light / sandy

Plant calendar

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Fruits
Fruits

Plant does not fruit in January

Plant does not fruit in February

Plant does not fruit in March

Plant does not fruit in April

Plant does not fruit in May

Plant does not fruit in June

Plant does not fruit in July

Plant does not fruit in August

Plant does fruit in September

Plant does fruit in October

Plant does not fruit in November

Plant does not fruit in December

Aesculus hippocastanum and wildlife

Aesculus hippocastanum 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.

Attractive to Bees

Attractive to Beneficial insects

Attractive to Birds

Attractive to Butterflies​/​Moths

Attractive to Other pollinators

Is Aesculus hippocastanum poisonous?

Aesculus hippocastanum causes an upset stomach. Its fruit is toxic.

Toxic to:

Toxic to Dogs

Toxic to People

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Cats

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock