T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Aesculus x carnea (Red horse-chestnut)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(Unranked):        Angiosperms
(Unranked):        Eudicots
(Unranked):        Rosids
Order:       Sapindales
Family:      Sapindaceae
Genus:      Aesculus
Binomial name: Aesculus x carnea
Common name: Red Horsechestnut, Red Horse Chestnut, Bottlebrush Buckeye


This tree's pods are poisonous. The toxic principles (saponins) acts prominently upon the liver and portal system, causing congestion, and giving rise, secondarily, in the colon, rectum, and anus, to catarrhal inflammation. The haemorrhoidal vessels become intensely congested, resulting in haemorrhoids in their most aggravated form. The chief characteristic is a severe aching pain in the lumbar and sacral regions. The saponins are very toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and some of the worlds hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities saponins containing flora in streams, lakes in order to stupefy or kill the fish.  Visit http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/plants-toxic-if-eaten-by-man.html.

Aesculus × carneais an artificial hybrid between Aesculus pavia (red buckeye) and Aesculus hippocastanum (horse-chestnut). The hybrid is a medium to large tree to 20–25 m tall. It has a pyramidal in shape when very young and develops slowly into a round, very dense shade tree by five to seven years of age.
It has large, palmate, compound, dark green, leaves composed of five to seven leaflets (15-25cm long). The leaflets have doubly-toothed margins. Although deciduous it does not produce any appreciable autumn colours.
Multitude of pink to bright scarlet blooms appear on erect, 30 cm long panicles at each branch tip. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees.
Prickly, gray-green, two to three seeded pods (3-4cm diameter) appear in autumn. These nuts are poisonous because they are rich in saponins. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and some of the worlds hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities saponins containing flora in streams, lakes in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

There are several Aesculus x carnea cultivars with Aesculus x carnea Briotii' being the most commonly seen. It has >25cm tall panicles, deep rosy flowers and matures as a smaller tree.
Aesculus x carnea 'Plantierensis' which is similar but with paler pink flowers. This tree is sterile and bears no fruit. Its common name is “Damask Red Horse Chestnut”.
Aesculus x carnea 'O'Neil' produces larger (>30cm) panicles with brighter red flowers.
Aesculus x carnea 'Fort McNair' it has dark pink flowers with yellow throats.  
Aesculus x carnea 'Pendula' which has arching branches