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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 flowers bloom in May among the lustrous dark green leaves.  It is not the best choice for street planting because it drops large, spiny fruits.

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
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (foliage falls off)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Growth Rate: 
  • Medium
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial shade (4-6 hrs indirect light daily)
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink
  • Red
Size Range: 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Rounded
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Shade
Time of Year: 
  • Late spring
More Information: 

Size and Form

30 to 40 feet high and 25 to 40 feet wide; rounded shape

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

May not be appropriate for a street tree because of its large spiny fruits.
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