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.
All common names:
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Shade tree,
- medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Alkaline soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Messy fruit/plant parts
- Spring blossoms,
- Showy flowers
Seasons of Interest:
- late spring
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Insect pollinators,
- Small mammals
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
Fort McNair red horse-chestnut (Aesculus x carnea 'Fort McNair'): 30 feet high and wide with a rounded form. Some resistance to leaf blotch. Pink flowers with yellow throats.
Ruby horse-chestnut (Aesculus x carnea 'Briotii'): 25 to 30 feet high with the same spread, this cultivar has dark rosy red flowers with yellow throats. The leaves have a red mid-rib.