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Red Horse Chestnut

Aesculus carnea

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Sapindaceae (Maple)
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 metres tall
Gardens, parks, riverbanks, riversides, towns, waterside, woodland.

Red, 4 petals
Red or dark pink flowers. Usually 4 petals but sometimes 5. Pollinated by bees.
The fruit are known as conkers. They are green or brown, globular and usually spiky, up to 5cm in diameter. The seeds mature in September.
Opposite leaves which are palmately compound, usually consisting of 5 leaflets. The leaflets are prominently veined (herringbone) and oblong, being broadest towards their bases. Double-serrated margins. The Red Horse Chestnut tree rarely naturalises. It is mainly found in southern England throughout the British Isles.
Other Names:
American Buckeye, Ruby Horse Chestnut.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Aesculus carnea, also known as the red horse chestnut or American buckeye, is a species of flowering tree in the soapberry family. It is native to the eastern United States and is commonly found in wooded areas and along streams and rivers. It grows to a height of about 20-30 meters and has large, palmately compound leaves with 5-7 leaflets. The tree produces clusters of large, showy pink or red flowers in the spring and has a distinctive, brown, spiny fruit capsule that contains a nut-like seed. The seeds and leaves of the tree are toxic and should not be ingested.


Red Horse Chestnut (Aesculus carnea) is a beautiful and attractive tree species, native to Southeast Europe and Western Asia. It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 30 meters tall and has a broad, rounded canopy.

One of the most distinctive features of the Red Horse Chestnut is its stunning blooms. In late spring, the tree produces clusters of large, pink or white spikes of flowers, which can be up to 20cm in length. These flowers are a source of food for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Red Horse Chestnut also has a range of medicinal properties. The leaves, bark, and seeds of the tree contain a compound called aescin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and vaso-protective effects. This makes the tree an important ingredient in traditional medicine, particularly for treating conditions such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Aside from its medicinal properties, the Red Horse Chestnut is also valued for its timber. The tree produces a strong and durable wood that is used in construction, furniture-making, and the manufacture of musical instruments.

Cultivation of the Red Horse Chestnut is relatively easy, as it is tolerant of a wide range of soils and conditions. It prefers a sunny position, but can also tolerate some shade. The tree is also resistant to a number of pests and diseases, making it a low-maintenance option for gardeners and landscapers.

The Red Horse Chestnut is a beautiful, versatile and useful tree that can add color and interest to any landscape. Whether you are looking for a tree to provide food for pollinators, to treat medical conditions, or simply to beautify your yard, the Red Horse Chestnut is definitely worth considering.

The Red Horse Chestnut is also a popular choice for urban landscapes due to its tolerance to pollution and urban conditions. It is often planted in parks, gardens and along streets, where it can provide a valuable source of shade and beauty.

Another interesting aspect of the Red Horse Chestnut is its symbolic significance. In some cultures, the tree is associated with love, fertility, and good luck. It is also said to bring good fortune and prosperity to those who plant it in their gardens.

Despite its many benefits, it is important to note that the Red Horse Chestnut also has some potential drawbacks. The tree produces large quantities of nuts that are toxic to humans and animals if ingested. Additionally, the tree is susceptible to a fungal disease called bleeding canker, which can cause dieback and tree death if left untreated.

In order to keep your Red Horse Chestnut healthy and thriving, it is important to provide it with adequate water and nutrients, and to prune it regularly to encourage strong growth and maintain its shape. It is also a good idea to protect the tree from damage caused by wind or heavy rainfall, and to monitor it regularly for signs of disease or pest infestation.

The Red Horse Chestnut is a magnificent and versatile tree that can bring beauty, value, and significance to any landscape. Whether you are a gardener, landscaper, or simply someone looking to add some greenery to your environment, the Red Horse Chestnut is definitely worth considering.

Another notable feature of the Red Horse Chestnut is its autumn foliage. As the temperatures cool in the fall, the tree's leaves change color, turning a brilliant yellow or orange-red. This provides a spectacular display of color in the landscape, making the Red Horse Chestnut an excellent choice for fall interest.

The tree is also easy to propagate, making it a great option for landscapers and gardeners who want to add multiple specimens to their yard. It can be propagated from seed, or through rooting softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings.

In terms of care, the Red Horse Chestnut is a low-maintenance tree that does not require a lot of attention. It can be pruned to control its size and shape, and can be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer once a year to promote healthy growth.

Overall, the Red Horse Chestnut is a great choice for anyone who wants to add beauty and value to their landscape. Its stunning blooms, autumn foliage, and tolerance to a wide range of conditions make it an ideal choice for both urban and rural landscapes. With proper care, a Red Horse Chestnut can bring years of enjoyment and satisfaction to any environment.


Red Horse Chestnut filmed at Silverdale on the 27th May 2023 and at Borwick on the 28th May 2023.


Music credits
Constancy Part 1 - The Descent by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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