Horse Chestnut

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)


Large deciduous tree that also goes by the name Buckeye or European horse chestnut. Leaves are opposite, complex, and grow in a palmate pattern; meaning that leaflets are arranged around a central point. Each leaf has five leaflets; these leaflets are large, deeply textured, and paddle-shaped. The margin, or edge, of the leaf has fine but ragged serrations. White flowers in the spring turn into the spiky green balls pictured below. These balls encase the tree’s fruit and reveal a shiny brown nut when opened.


narrow paddle-shaped leaves growing around a center point
Mature leaves of the Horse Chestnut.

NPS Photo/ W. Kaselow

buds of green leaves growing from a branch
Young leaves of the Horse Chestnut.

Ellen G. Denny, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

white and pink flowers along a branch
Flowers of the Horse Chestnut.

Frettie, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

fruits that are spiky green balls
Fruits of the Horse Chestnut.

NPS Photo/ W. Kaselow

brown spiky circular fruit
A ripened fruit of the Horse Chestnut.

Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

yellow paddle-shaped leaves connected at a central point.
Fall coloring of Horse Chestnut leaves.

Tsyganov Sergey, CC BY-SA 4.0

Boston National Historical Park, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

Last updated: October 28, 2022