The Trees of Cornell

Common Horsechestnut

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Aesculus hippocastanum from American Medicinal Plants : an Illustrated and Descriptive Guide to the American Plants Used as Homoeopathic Remedies: Their History, Preparation, Chemistry and Physiological Effects

Aesculus hippocastanum

Growing up to 75 feet tall, the horse chestnut is beloved both for the shade it throws on hot summer days and the absolutely gorgeous show of white-to-reddish tinged 12 inch long blossom clusters it puts out in mid-spring. Its elegant palmately compound leaves (5-7 obovate leaflets) take on shades of yellow and brown in the fall. Its autumn nuts—inedible but alluring with a beautifully warm brown color—offered material for a popular 19th century children’s game in the British Isles known as Conkers.

Aesculus hippocastanum is originally native to the Balkans, and was introduced to wider Europe and North America in the early 1600s. Its common name is said to have come from Turkey, where it was known as a medicinal for horses suffering from pulmonary troubles.

Relatively easy to grow in average, well-drained soils in sun or partial shade across hardiness zones 4 to 7, the horse chestnut is a frequent favorite for parks, city streets and garden landscapes.


“Horse Chestnut.” Encyclopaedia Britannica

Aesculus hippocastanum,” Missouri Botanical Gardens

“Conkers,” Wikipedia

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Map of Common Horsechestnuts on the Cornell Campus

One Common Horsechestnut's Projected Benefits

Every tree provides both function and value, from shade and wildlife habitats to CO2 sequestration and stormwater retention. To help us appreciate some of the benefits of the trees around us, iTree Design has developed a tool to calculate the main financial benefits of any given tree in a specific location over time. Note that these monetary values will vary greatly based on where the tree stands; energy usage for indoor spaces will not be impacted by a tree placed far from a building. The specific common horsechestnut tree these calculations refer to stands here, just outside Mann Library on the Ag Quad of Cornell's Ithaca Campus.

This common horsechestnut graces the outside of Mann Library.

Total Projected Benefits (2020-2065)

Over the next 45 years, based on forecasted tree growth, i-Tree Design projects total benefits worth $553.

$111 of savings by reducing 4,792 lbs. of atmospheric carbon dioxide through CO 2 sequestration and decreased energy production needs and emissions

$70 of storm runoff savings by avoiding 7,874 gallons of stormwater runoff (intercepting 81,589 gallons of rainfall)

$7 of air quality improvement savings by absorbing and intercepting pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter; reducing energy production needs; and lowering air temperature

$358 of summer energy savings by direct shading and air cooling effect through evapotranspiration

$7 of winter energy savings by slowing down winds and reducing home heat loss

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Aesculus hippocastanum from Die Baume und Straucher des Waldes (1889)

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Common Horsechestnuts on the Cornell Campus