Aesculus hippocastanum is a big deciduous tree, generally often known as Horse-chestnut. It’s native to a small space within the mountains of the Balkans in southeast Europe, in small areas in northern Greece, Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, and Bulgaria. It’s extensively cultivated all through the temperate world.
It grows to 36 m tall, with a domed crown of stout branches, on previous bushes the outer branches typically pendulous with curled-up ideas. The leaves are reverse and palmately compound, with 5-7 leaflets; every leaflet is 13–30 cm lengthy, making the entire leaf as much as 60 cm throughout, with a 7–20 cm petiole. The flowers are normally white with a small purple spot; they’re produced in spring in erect panicles 10–30 cm tall with about 20-50 flowers on every panicle. Often solely 1-5 fruit develop on every panicle; the fruit is a inexperienced, softly spiky capsule containing one (not often two or three) nut-like seeds known as conkers or horse-chestnuts. Every conker is 2–4 cm diameter, shiny nut-brown with a whitish scar on the base.
Cultivation for its spectacular spring flowers is profitable in a variety of weather conditions supplied summers should not too scorching, with bushes being grown as far north as Edmonton, Alberta, the Faroe Islands, and Tromsø, Norway. In additional southern areas, progress is finest in cooler mountain climates.
In Britain, the nuts are used for the favored kids’s recreation conkers. Throughout the two world wars, horse-chestnuts have been used as a supply of starch which in flip might be used through the Clostridium acetobutylicum fermentation methodology devised by Chaim Weizmann to supply acetone. This acetone was then used as a solvent which aided within the strategy of ballistite extrusion into cordite, which was then utilized in navy armaments.
The nuts, particularly these which are younger and contemporary, are barely toxic, containing alkaloid saponins and glucosides. Though not harmful to the touch, they trigger illness when eaten. Some mammals, notably deer, are in a position to break down the toxins and eat them safely. They’re reputed to be good for horses with wind, however that is unproven and feeding them to horses will not be advisable. The saponin aescin, nevertheless, has been used for well being functions (corresponding to varicose veins, edema, sprains) and is obtainable in meals dietary supplements, as is a associated glocoside aesculin.
Prior to now, Horse-chestnut seeds have been utilized in France and Switzerland for whitening hemp, flax, silk and wool. They include a soapy juice, match for laundry of linens and stuffs, for milling of caps and stockings, and so forth., and for fulling of fabric. For this, 20 horse-chestnut seeds have been adequate for six liters of water. They have been peeled, then rasped or dried, and floor in a malt or different mill. The water have to be delicate, both rain or river water; laborious effectively water won’t work. The nuts are then steeped in chilly water, which quickly turns into frothy, as with cleaning soap, after which turns milky white. The liquid have to be stirred effectively at first, after which, after standing to settle, strained or poured off clear. Linen washed on this liquid, and afterwards rinsed in clear operating water, takes on an agreeable gentle sky-blue color. It takes spots out of each linen and wool, and by no means damages or injures the material.
In Bavaria the chestnut is the everyday tree for a beer backyard. Initially they have been planted for his or her deep shade which meant that beer cellar homeowners might lower ice from native rivers and lakes in winter to chill their beer effectively into summer time. These days company benefit from the shade to maintain their heads cool – even after the second Maß (a mug with a liter of beer).
Conkers have been threatened by the leaf-mining moth Cameraria ohridella, whose larvae feed on horse chestnut leaves. The moth had been in Europe since 1985 however took 17 years to achieve Britain.
Aesculus hippocastanum is utilized in Bach flower treatments. When the buds are used it’s known as “Chestnut Bud” and when the flowers are used it’s known as “White Chestnut”.
The flower is the image of the town of Kiev, capital of Ukraine.
Horse-chestnuts can be utilized to make jewellery utilizing the conkers as beads.
Pests and Ailments
- Euro+Med Plantbase Venture: Aesculus hippocastanum
- Højgaard, A., Jóhansen, J., & Ødum, S. (1989). A century of tree planting on the Faroe Islands. Ann. Soc. Sci. Faeroensis Supplementum 14.
- “Aesculin”. Plant Poisons. http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2001/gerrard/aesculin.html.