Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is a large, deciduous tree commonly named the "conker" tree - after its nuts that are used in the traditional game of "conkers".
Useful info about Horse Chestnut trees
|Latin Name||Aesculus hippocastanum|
|Type||Deciduous (loses its leaves in winter)|
|Height||Can grow up to 20+ metres (65+ feet)|
|Spread||The branches can spread out to 15 - 20 metres (50 - 65 feet)|
|Soil Types Preferred||Chalk, Clay, Limestone, Loam, Sand|
|Locations Suitable||Farmland, Gardens, Parks|
|Flowers||Large white flowers May|
|Fruit||Nuts in summer / autumn|
Horse chestnut is native to a southern Europe.
It grows to 36 m tall, with a domed crown of stout branches, on old trees the outer branches often pendulous with curled-up tips.
The horse chestnut has hand-shaped, palmate leaves with five to seven toothed leaflets.
In spring, horse chestnuts display wonderful, large, upright flower spikes ranging in colour from white to deep pink.
In autumn Horse Chestnut trees bear fruit that is a green, softly spiky capsule usually containing one nut-like seeds called "conkers" or horse chestnuts.
Each conker is 2-4 cm diameter, glossy nut-brown with a whitish scar at the base.
The tree is commonly called the "conker" tree after these seeds it sheds in spiny cases in the autumn. The prickly outer layer of the seeds is designed to deter squirrels and other seed predators.
The seeds ("conkers") of the horse chestnut are collected by children (and adults!) for conker competitions. Normally a small hole is drilled through the centre of the conker and a string is attached.
Two conkers are alternately flicked at each other until one breaks.
There's even a world conker championships held in Ashton, Northamptonshire in October every year.
Horse Chestnut is believed to have been introduced to the UK in the 16th century and it has since naturalised here.
It thrives in warm conditions and is therefore usually found in the south of England. It is occasionally found in woodland but is more often planted in parklands and estates.
The wood of the tree is durable and is used to make furniture, etc.
Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.
Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.
Culture and Symbolism
Horse Chestnut trees are believed to be associated with fertility, abundance and longevity.
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