Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Chestnut Horse

Chestnut, Horse [AEsculus Hippocastanum), a tree, frequently 50 or 60 feet high, belonging to the order Sapindaceae, a native of Asia, introduced into Europe about the middle of the 16th century. It has a smooth stem with soft, white, valueless, rapidly-growing wood, thick branches, and very large gummy terminal buds. The leaves are in opposite, decussate pairs, with stalks nearly a foot long, and seven large leaflets arranged palmately. These are remarkable for rising from a pendulous to a horizontal position. The flowers are in large conical clusters, technically known as racemes of cicinnal cymes and are asymmetric, having five sepals, five petals, seven stamens, and three united carpels. The petals are white with pink and yellow honey-guides at their bases. Only the lower flowers of a cluster have an ovary, and this forms a fleshy dehiscent three-chambered fruit set with short scattered prickles. Each chamber contains two ovules, but the seeds are fewer in number. They have a polished brown testa with a large, rough, circular hilum, and so resemble the fruits of the true chestnut (q.v.), a tree of an entirely distinct group. The seeds are exalbuminous, and the cotyledons are farinaceous but bitter, and are, therefore, but rarely used as human food. They are eaten by deer, goats, and sheep, and are said to be good for cattle with coughs. They produce a slightly soapy lather with water. The scarlet horse-chestnut, often grown for ornament, belongs to the genus Pavia, which differs in being smooth-fruited. Allied species are known in America as Buckeyes.