Content Detail

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.

  • Family (English) Soapberry (formerly Horse-chestnut)
  • Family (botanic) Sapindaceae (formerly Hippocastanaceae)
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest late spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Pink, Red
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Hummingbirds, Insect pollinators, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

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: 

The palmately compound leaves are arranged in pairs (opposite). They are dark green with five or sometimes seven leaflets. Fall color is yellow-brown.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flower color varies from pink to red. The flowers are arranged on a 6 to 8 inch long, cone-shaped terminal cluster.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

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

Plant care:

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

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Large spiny fruits can be messy. Leaf blotch and mildew are possible problems, but less so on this species than on related species. This hybrid is less susceptible to leaf blotch and mildew than common horse-chestnut.

Fort McNair red horse-chestnut (Aesculus x carnea ‘Fort McNair’):

This cultivar is 30 feet high and wide with a rounded form and some resistance to leaf blotch. Pink flowers with yellow throats bloom in spring.

Ruby horse-chestnut (Aesculus x carnea ‘Briotii’):

At 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.


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