SCIENTIFIC NAME: Aesculus hippocastanum L.
Hardiness Zones 3 to 7.
Height 40-60 feet
Width 25-50 feet
Growth habit This tree is common in the Midwest but will grow in all States. It prefers the moist deep well drained soil that most deciduous trees likes but adapts well to most other soils and to droughty conditions. IA medium growing trees; growing 18” per year. Growth is rapid when young and slows down with age. It prefers a sunny exposure sheltered from wind. The hosechestnut is native to Albania, Greece, and the Balkans; however, it is now naturalized to the United States. It is not a true chestnut but is a relative of the North American buckeyes.
Foliage Leaves are large, and opposite palmately compound with usually 7 obovate, serrate, leaflets (4 to 6 inches long. Each leaflet is 3 to 6 inches long, elliptic-oblong and pointed at the tip. This is a key ornamental feature of the tree. The dark green foliage turns yellow-brown in fall. The foliage on the tree is a dark green above and paler below.
Buds Large, long (2/3”) brown and pointed.
Flowers and fruit Creamy white in a large showy upright cluster, 5 to 8 inches long that age to dull red.
Fruit Rich brown shiny nuts covered by a leathery spiny husk. Similar to the seed of the Ohio buckeye. The nuts, unlike the true chestnut are moderately toxic and not edible but extracts are used in herbal medicines. The nut is a unique characteristic of the tree.
Bark Light to dark brownish gray, developing irregular scaly, rough ridges
Twigs Nearly round with thick, leathery very spiny husks enclosing 1 to 3 smooth, chestnut brown seeds.
Insects and diseases Leaves are very prone to scorch and foliar diseases. Leaf blotch causes unsightly browning in summer and leaf scorch, during drough gives the canopy a brown appearance. The Red Hosechestnut is a hybrid that has red flow cluster. The cultivar ‘Baumanni’ has double, white flowers that do not produce any nuts and so reduces litter problems.
Landscape ValueThis is an excellent shade and accent tree for large yards and streets. It has a stately rounded shape that is dark green. This tree is widely planted in parks, campuses, golf courses, avenues, and in large gardens. It is not for small yards. The large leaves, nuts and dropping twigs can be considered a nuisance.
G. Lumis, USDA Forest Service-So.
Group of State Foresters ST-61
Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources