How to Identify a Horse Chestnut Tree

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The horse chestnut tree (scientific name Aesculus hippocastanum) is cultivated worldwide in temperate environments. The horse chestnut tree is common in parks and gardens because of its size, elegant domed shape and showy white flowers. The tree's name, horse chestnut, reflects in part the tree's fruit, which has a chestnut-like appearance although it is not a nut. You can identify a horse chestnut tree by its several defining physical characteristics.

  • Observe the shape. Mature horse chestnut trees range from 40 to 60 feet tall and have a rounded or domed crown.

  • Examine the leaves. Horse chestnut tree leaves may be four to six inches long and range from a pale green below to a darker green above. The leaves are palmate and typically have seven leaflets.

  • Examine the bark. Look for rough, irregular ridges and a scaly texture with coloring from light to dark brownish gray.

  • Examine the flowers. In spring, when the flowers appear, they grow upright five to eight inches tall. The flowers are white, showy and may have small reddish spots.

  • Examine the fruit. The horse chestnut tree fruit has a green, spiky epidermis containing one to three glossy brown seeds called conkers.

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  • Photo Credit Horse Chestnut tree with flowers: Photographer Bogdan Giuşcă, Horse chestnut tree with rounded, domed crown: Photographer Sannse at en.wikipedia, Horse chestnut tree leaves and flowers: Photographer Jaroměř, Horse chestnut tree bark: Photographer Alvesgaspar, Horse chestnut tree fruit: Photographer Solipsist
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