Horse Chestnut

Aesculus hippocastanum

  1. Wildlife
  2. Trees and shrubs
  3. Horse Chestnut

About

The Horse Chestnut is a tall, broad tree that has been widely planted in parks and gardens. Originally native to the mountains of northern Greece and Albania, the Horse Chestnut was introduced into the UK in 1616 and has since become naturalised. In April and May, rows of Horse Chestnuts lining roads and in woodlands provide a spectacular display of 'candles' - large, upright flower spikes ranging in colour from white to deep pink. In autumn, it sheds its spiny-cased seeds, known as conkers, which are collected by children everywhere for conker competitions (attached to strings, two conkers are alternately flicked at each other until one breaks).

How to identify

The Horse Chestnut is instantly recognisable by the combination of its hand-shaped compound leaf, its pinky-white flower spikes in the spring, and its spiny-shelled fruits in the autumn which contain the conkers.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Although Horse Chestnut is not a native tree it provides an important link in the food chain for many animals, as well as a place for shelter and nesting. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.

Species information

Common name
Horse Chestnut
Latin name
Aesculus hippocastanum
Category
Trees and shrubs
Statistics
Height: up to 35m
Conservation status
Introduced species.