Forest crops: Horse chestnut

Forest crops: Horse chestnut

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Classification, origin and diffusion

Division: Spermatophyta
Subdivision: Angiospermae
Class: Dicotyledones
Family: Ippocastanaceae

LCommon horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum L.) finds its ideal environment in the climatic belt of the beech (hot sub-area from the Fagetum according to the classification of Pavari). It originates from the Balkans (Macedonia).
LHorse chestnut with red flowers (Aesculus carnea Zeyh.) Is a species born in culture thanks to the doubling of the number of chromosomes of the hybrid between the common horse chestnut and Aesculus pavia L., shrub of North American origin of purple or crimson flowers. It differs for the flowers from pink to purple and for the slightly more shiny leaves, with more coarsely and sharply toothed margins; it also has slightly smaller and almost thornless fruits.

Red-flowered horse chestnut - Aesculus carnea Zeyh. (website photo)

Red-flowered horse chestnut - Aesculus carnea Zeyh. (website photo)

General characteristics

Size, trunk and bark
With an elegant and imposing bearing, it can reach 30 meters in height; the foliage is expanded, globular and majestic in the old specimens. The trunk, straight and knotty with age, is robust and has a first bark, thin, smooth, gray in color, then gray-brownish, thickened, furrowed and scaled in small quadrangular plates. The branches, rising to candelabrum, are lenticellated; they have large opposite buds, reddish, and a terminal of considerable size, covered with a viscous substance.
Deciduous, alternate, with long petiole and palmate-composed lamina, with 5-7 oblanceolate-sharp segments, with serrated edge. They are hairless, above dark and sublucid, below opaque and lighter.
Reproductive structures
The flowers (about 2 cm), white with a yellow tinge at the base, are gathered in panicles up to 30 cm long, have 5-lobed calyx and 5-petal corolla. The fruit is a large round and greenish capsule, covered with slightly pungent spines, which opens into three valves and contains a large shiny brown seed (chestnut nut).


Lippocastano is a typical park tree and tree-lined avenue, both for the beauty of the foliage and for the spring flowering. The name derives from the Greek ippos (horse) and castanon (chestnut), because the seeds (rich in starch) can be used, in moderate quantities, to feed the horses. Horse chestnut wood is of poor quality; the bark was used in the past as a febrifuge.

Video: Horse Chestnut Disease Bleeding Canker of Horse Chestnut Trees