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Aesculus Hippocastanum Horse Chestnut Tree Aesculus Hippocastanum, more commonly known as Common Horse Chestnut, is widely recognised as the conker tree. It is native to the Balkans, but has become well-established in the UK since its introduction in the late 16th century. The Horse Chestnut is named for the horse-shoe shaped scar its fallen leaves make on the twig. In turn this led to the belief that ground up conkers could relieve respiratory problems in horses. Smooth dark brown conkers are not the sole reason to choose this stunning deciduous tree because it also has beautiful spring flowers which are some of the most ornamental in late spring to early summer.
In May to June creamy-white flowers burst through in upright panicles with each individual flower containing up to five fringed petals that gradually mature into a pinky-red at the base. In September, if the flowers are pollinated, they develop into the green-spiked casings that contain its fruit – the legendary conker. Throughout the summer the Common Horse Chesnut has a broad canopy of large, easily recognisable palmate leaves that hang from a central stem. The leaves are grouped into five to seven fingered ‘palms’ which turn yellow-brown in autumn and begin to fall as the temperatures change. Autumnal leaf fall leaves behind a solid structural framework in winter.
Height and Spread of Aesculus Hippocastanum This is a large tree and really only suitable for a large garden. It can reach heights of 30 metres and spread over eight metres.
How Hardy Is Aesculus Hippocastanum This is a fully hardy tree in all of the UK, it can withstand sub zero temperatures, some drought and exposed locations.
How To Use Aesculus Hippocastanum The Aesculus Hippocastanum needs plenty of room to grow, so it is best suited to large gardens as a specimen in the lawn. These specific trees have been trained as multi-stemmed with several upright branches rather than one main leader. This gives more a wild and natural appearance making it suitable for wildlife and informal gardens. In summer the dense foliage provides privacy and noise reduction, but it not suitable for under planting because the foliage unfurls early in the year and cuts out light. It goes without saying that the Horse Chestnut is a great tree for children who universally love collecting and playing with conkers that fall in late summer to autumn.
How To Care For Aesculus Hippocastanum Little care is needed by this tough and beautiful tree, it happily tolerates all soils and does not require pruning, although you can remove the lower branches to let in light as it matures. Your Common Horse Chestnut will be delivered root-balled ready for immediate planting. New specimens will require water until they are established, and in early spring a thick layer of mulch around the base will boost its health and vitality.
If you’re looking for an instantly recognisable low maintenance tree with beautiful flowers the Aesculus Hippocastanum is a great choice – it is one of the most floral and attractive trees and produces family-friendly conkers.