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Aesculus hippocastanum

Object Details

Description
Originally from the mountains of northern Greece, Albania, and Bulgaria, the horse chestnut was brought from the classical capital of Constantinople to Vienna by Clusius in 1576, where it was then distributed to the rest of Europe. For the average nature explorer, some confusion could arise over the common name. Horse chestnuts are from the Sapindaceae family, and produce poisonous nuts. Chestnuts are from the Fagaceae family, and have edible nuts. While A. hippocastanum's fruit is used in pharmaceutical and traditional medicine, eating one of its nuts could result in vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis, or even death. The average observer should stick to admiring the beautiful speckled flowers and shade of this vulnerable tree.
Hardiness
-40 - 20 F
Bloom Time
May-June
Ethnobotanical Uses
Seeds ("conkers") are popular in children's games.
Medicinal / Pharmaceutical
Processed for treatments for vascular problems. Albanian folk medicine uses deconction of bark and leaves to treat circulatory problems. Used in cosmetic skin-care products. Major active substance is Aescin (escin), which is also extracted form the seeds to treat upset stomachs.
Provenance
Uncertain
Range
SE Europe
Habitat
deciduous and broad-leaved forests, 228-1600 meters.
Topic
Trees
Living Collections
See more items in
Smithsonian Gardens Tree Collection
On Display
Anacostia Community Museum
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Accession Number
2011-0304A
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Common Name
Common Horse Chestnut
European Horse Chestnut
Horse Chestnut
Group
[vascular plants]
Class
Equisetopsida
Subclass
Magnoliidae
Superorder
Rosanae
Order
Sapindales
Family
Sapindaceae
Genus
Aesculus
Species
hippocastanum
Life Form
Deciduous tree
Average Height
50-75'
Bark Characteristics
Mature: exfoliating bark which peels away to show orange bark underneath
Bloom Characteristics
White flowers with yellow-red speckles in 7-12", erect panicles. Each flower is .75" wide and 5 parted.
Fall Color
Yellow, brown
Foliage Characteristics
5-7 lobes, dark green, palmately compound with double serrated margins; 4-10" long
Fruit Characteristics
Light brown, spiny, with 1-2 black, nut-like seeds; 2-2.25" in diameter; poisonous
Structure
Oval-rounded
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ax71bc8e46e-d6d0-45cf-908f-e7c3952a055a
Record ID
ofeo-sg_2011-0304A
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
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