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Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

The deciduous tree, which grows up to 35 meters tall, is easily recognized by its palmately divided leaves and the green, soft-spined capsule fruits, which contain one to three shiny braune seeds. The foliage is particularly dense, making the Ross Chestnut a popular shade tree. In May and June, the white flower corollas appear. Yellow sap stains at the base of the flowers indicate to bees and bumblebees that food is waiting for them here, later the sap stains are red - there is no more nectar in these flowers.

Origin and cultivation.

The horse chestnut survived the Ice Age only in two small, separate areas in the Balkans. When the climate became more favorable again, the tree was unable to reconquer its old distribution area on its own - its seeds are too heavy and "immobile". But with the help of man it managed to do so: in 1557 the Turks brought the tree to Constantinople, and from there it conquered the gardens of the European nobility. Today, the horse chestnut dominates many parks, beer gardens and avenues. However, it is hard to find in forests, because it needs a lot of space and light.


The bark of the horse chestnut is used in folk medicine. Among other things, it contains complex saponin mixtures; one of these, aesculin, intercepts ultraviolet radiation and, as an ingredient in ointments, protects against sunburn. Aescin, also a saponin mixture, is extracted from the seeds. Its vasostrengthening, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory and draining effects make the chestnutnextract an important drug for vascular diseases - for this reason the horse chestnut was named medicinal plant of the year 2008.

Use of horse chestnut.

Horse chestnut useHorse chestnut use
  • Aescin makes the vascular walls more impermeable and thus ensures that not too much water reaches the surrounding tissue. In this way, the horse chestnut provides relief for heavy legs and slightly swollen ankles.
  • The horse chestnut also brings relief for chronic venous weakness, varicose veins and phlebitis.
  • Other areas of application of the chestnutnextrakte are night cramps in the calves and itching.
  • The barknextrakt has an overall stimulating effect on blood circulation.

For many years, horse chestnut stands have suffered from the leaf miner moth. The feeding tunnels of the larvae damage the leaves so much that they die prematurely. Then the tree already looks in summer like it does in autumn shortly before the leaves fall. To keep the leaf miner in check, the fallen leaves are collected and burned - and never put on the compost. Natural predators of the leaf miner are the tits, which have learned to pick the larvae out of their tunnels.

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