TREES & plants

Red horse-chestnut

The red horse-chestnut, a cross between horse-chestnut and red buckeye, is an excellent shade tree for large areas. Its distinctive, rose-red, cone-shaped flower clusters bloom in May among the lustrous dark green leaves.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name: 
Aesculus x carnea
All Common Names: 
red horse-chestnut, red horsechestnut
Family (English): 
Soapberry (formerly Horse-chestnut)
Family (Botanic): 
Sapindaceae (formerly Hippocastanaceae)
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
  • City parkway
  • Wide median
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Shade
  • Parkway/street
Size Range: 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
Mature Height: 
30-40 feet
Mature Width: 
30-40 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Prefers
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Intolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms
  • Showy flowers
Season of Interest: 
  • Late spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink
  • Red
Shape or Form: 
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • No
  • Hummingbirds
  • Insect pollinators
  • Small mammals
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

More tolerant of dryness than horse-chestnut, but still grows best in a moist soil.
Red horse-chestnut has a taproot which may make planting difficult.

Disease, pests and problems

Large spiny fruits can be messy.
Leaf blotch and mildew are possible problems, but less so on this species than on related species.

Disease, pest and problem resistance

This hybrid is less susceptible to leaf blotch and mildew than European horse-chestnut.

Native geographic location and habitat

This is a hybrid cross between red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) and Common horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum).

Bark color and texture 

Bark is gray-brown, becoming platy as the tree ages.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Palmately compound leaves arranged in pairs (opposite).
Dark green with 5 or sometimes 7 leaflets.
Fall color is yellow-brown.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

6 to 8 inch long, cone-shaped terminal cluster.
Flower color varies from pink to red.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Shiny brown nuts in a 1 ½” prickly husk.
Horse-chestnuts are not true chestnuts and should not be eaten.

Cultivars and their differences 

Ruby Red Horse-chestnut (Aesculus x carnea ‘Briotii’):  25 to 35 feet high and 25 to 35 feet wide with a compact, rounded shape
Deep red flowers with yellow throats bloom in May