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Useful Temperate Plants

Aesculus chinensis

Bunge

Sapindaceae


Typical Aesculus chinensis, described from Beijing, is planted, especially in temple grounds and by houses, and is not known with certainty in a wild state. The plant formerly known as Aesculus wilsonii Rehder is now recognized as the wild form of Aesculus chinensis and is given varietal status as Aesculus chinensis var. wilsonii (Rehder) Turland & N.H.Xia[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

+ Synonyms

Aesculus chekiangensis Hu & W.P.Fang

Aesculus wilsonii Rehder

Common Name: Chinese Horse Chestnut

Aesculus chinensis
Fruiting plant in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris
Photograph by: Tangopaso
Public domain
Aesculus chinensis Aesculus chinensis Aesculus chinensis

General Information

Aesculus chinensis is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 25 metres tall. The bole can be up to 250cm in diameter[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of saponins.

Known Hazards

Most, if not all, species in this genus are poisonous, containing the glycoside aesculin, the saponin aescin, and possibly alkaloids[
293
Title
Poisonous Plants of North Carolina
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/poison.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent concise but comprehensive guide to toxic plants that grow in N. Carolina. It lists even those plants that are of very low toxicity, including several well-known food plants such as carrots and potatoes.
].
The seed is rich in saponins. Although poisonous, saponins also have a range of medicinal applications and many saponin-rich plants are used in herbalism (particularly as emetics, expectorants and febrifuges) or as sources of raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry. Saponins are also found in a number of common foods, such as many beans.
Saponins have a quite bitter flavour and are in general poorly absorbed by the human body, so most pass through without harm. They can be removed by carefully leaching in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of raw foods that contain saponins.
Saponins are much more toxic to many cold-blooded creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish and make them easy to catch[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Botanical References

11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

E. Asia - southern central China.

Habitat

Broad-leaved forests, near streams in tall shady forests, woods, thickets, mountain and hill slopes, ravines and roadsides at elevations from 600 - 2,000 metres, occasionally to 2,300 metres[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitDeciduous Tree
Height25.00 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsBees
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Aesculus chinensis probably prefers a continental climate with its hot summers, cold winters and usually a clear movement from one season to another. The dormant plant is very cold-tolerant, but in more maritime climates it is often tempted to come into growth early and this new growth can easily be damaged by late spring frosts[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Prefers a deep loamy well-drained soil but is not too fussy[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
].
Seedlings quickly develop a taproot and larger plants can be difficult to transplant[
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
].

Edible Uses

Seed - cooked. It can be dried and ground into a powder and used as a gruel. The seed is quite large, it can be 3cm in diameter, and is easily harvested. Unfortunately it is also rich in saponins, these must be removed before it can be used as a food and this process also removes many of the minerals and vitamins, leaving behind mainly starch. See also the notes above on toxicity.
The following notes apply to Aesculus californica, but are probably also relevant here:-
The seed needs to be leached of toxins before it becomes safe to eat - the native Americans would do this by slow-roasting the nuts (which would have rendered the saponins harmless) and then cutting them into thin slices, putting them into a cloth bag and rinsing them in a stream for 2 - 5 days[
213
Title
Earth Medicine, Earth Food.
Publication
 
Author
Weiner. M. A.
Publisher
Ballantine Books
Year
1980
ISBN
0-449-90589-6
Description
A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical.
]. Most of the minerals etc would also have been leached out by this treatment[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

The seed is antirheumatic and emetic[
178
Title
Chinese Materia Medica.
Publication
 
Author
Stuart. Rev. G. A.
Publisher
Taipei. Southern Materials Centre
Year
1911
ISBN
-
Description
A translation of an ancient Chinese herbal. Fascinating.
,
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
]. The sweet tasting seed is said to be used in the treatment of contracted limbs that are due to palsy or rheumatism[
178
Title
Chinese Materia Medica.
Publication
 
Author
Stuart. Rev. G. A.
Publisher
Taipei. Southern Materials Centre
Year
1911
ISBN
-
Description
A translation of an ancient Chinese herbal. Fascinating.
,
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
]. It is also used in the treatment of stomach aches[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Other Uses

Saponins in the seed are used as a soap substitute[
169
Title
A Weavers Garden
Publication
 
Author
Buchanan. R.
Publisher
McGraw-Hill Contemporary
Year
1987
ISBN
0934026289
Description
Covers all aspects of growing your own clothes, from fibre plants to dyes.
]. The saponins can be easily obtained by chopping the seed into small pieces and infusing them in hot water. This water can then be used for washing the body, clothes etc. Its main drawback is a lingering odour of horse chestnuts[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown outdoors or in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
80
Title
Hardy Woody Plants from Seed.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Grower Books
Year
1985
ISBN
0-901361-21-6
Description
Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading.
]. The seed germinates almost immediately and must be given protection from severe weather[
130
Title
The Plantsman. Vol. 4. 1982 - 1983.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Royal Horticultural Society
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Excerpts from the periodical giving cultivation details and other notes on some of the useful plants, including Distylium racemosum and some perennial members of the family Berberidaceae.
]. Seedlings develop a large taproot following germination and so, if grown in containers, should be given sufficient root room[
379
Title
Silvics of North America. Agricultural Handbook No. 654.
Publication
 
Author
Burns. R.M. & Honkala. B.H.
Website
http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm
Publisher
USDA Forest Service; Washington DC.
Year
1990
ISBN
 
Description
A very comprehensice guide to about 200 species of timber trees of N. America, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Mainly temperate species, plus a number of tropical species. It is downloadable from the Internet.
]. The seed has a very limited viability and must not be allowed to dry out. Stored seed should be soaked for 24 hours prior to sowing and even after this may still not be viable[
80
Title
Hardy Woody Plants from Seed.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Grower Books
Year
1985
ISBN
0-901361-21-6
Description
Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading.
,
113
Title
The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
Publication
 
Author
Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W.
Publisher
Athens Ga. Varsity Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0942375009
Description
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is best to sow the seed with its 'scar' downwards[
130
Title
The Plantsman. Vol. 4. 1982 - 1983.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Royal Horticultural Society
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Excerpts from the periodical giving cultivation details and other notes on some of the useful plants, including Distylium racemosum and some perennial members of the family Berberidaceae.
]. If sowing the seed in a cold frame, pot up the seedlings in early spring and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2021-01-19. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Aesculus+chinensis>

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