These trees are natives of North America, Europe and Asia and are commonly known as Buckeyes and Horse Chestnuts. These beautiful trees are suitable for planting along roads, in parks and gardens, and near the sea. A. Hippocastanum (Common Horse Chestnut) is a handsome tree that grows from 40 to 60 feet high. It has palmate leaves consisting of 7, oblong leaflets, which are 4 to 6 inches long. They have pointed bases broadening toward the end and toothed edges. In the spring, it produces spikes of white flowers splotched with yellow and tinted with red. They are followed by bunches of green, thorny fruits that contain the seeds. A. carnea (Red Horse Chestnut) grows 25 to 50 feet high and bears panicles of beautiful rosy-red flowers. A. glabra (Ohio Buckeye) has palmate leaves consisting of 5 oval or oblong-obovate leaflets that grow from 3 to 6 inches long. They have a foul odor when crushed. This tree produces 3- to 5-inch spikes of inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers; these are followed by tough, round pods growing about an inch in diameter. They contain one large, smooth, shiny brown nut. The foliage of the Ohio Buckeye turns brilliant orange in the fall. A. Pavia (Red Buckeye) is a small tree 12 to 30 feet high or a large bush. It produces airy bunches of tubular, red flowers in May and June. The leaves and nuts of all of these beautiful trees are poisonous. The wood of these trees is clean and white if cut when the sap is down in the winter; however, it isn't strong or durable when exposed, so it is used mainly for toys and other minor necessities.
Spring or fall (when the weather is mild and the ground not saturated) are the best times to plant Horse Chestnuts and Buckeyes. These trees flourish in deep, fertile, moist soil that is slightly acidic. If the soil is too dry, the leaves will turn brown and fall off early. They should be planted in a sunny or lightly shaded location. Take care when choosing a site for your trees because they can be messy when they drop their spiny fruits, twigs and leaves. Pruning should be done in late winter or spring when the trees have no leaves. Thin out branches that are crowded and shorten any that are too long and give the tree an uneven appearance.
Seeds can be sown outdoors as soon as they are ripe or they may be stratified and sown in the spring. Grafting or budding can be done in the spring. The common Horse Chestnut can be used as a stock. The young trees used as stocks should be at least 6 months old.