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Genus Aesculus species of deciduous Trees and Shrubs


Aesculus Hippocastanum — The Common Horse Chestnut. Asia, 1629. A fine hardy free-flowering tree, supposed to have been introduced from Asia, and of which there are several varieties, including a double-flowered, a variegated, and several lobed and cut-leaved forms. The tree needs no description, the spikes of pinky-white flowers, which are produced in great abundance, and ample foliage rendering it one of, if not the handsomest tree of our acquaintance. It gives a pleasing shade, and forms an imposing and picturesque object in the landscape, especially where the conditions of soil — a rich free loam — are provided. Aesculus Hippocastanum alba florepleno (the double white Horse Chestnut), has a decidedly pyramidal habit of growth, and the flowers, which are larger than those of the species, are perfectly double. It is a very distinct and desirable large growing tree. Aesculus Hippocastanum laciniata and Aesculus Hippocastanum digitalis are valuable for their divided leaves; while Aesculus Hippocastanum foliis variegatis has the foliage rather irregularly variegated.

Aesculus Californica - This is one of the handsomest species, of low, spreading habit, and blooming freely about midsummer.

Aesculus Glabra - Red-flowered Horse Chestnut. North America, 1820. If only for its neat and moderate growth, and attractive spikes of brightly-coloured flowers, this species must be considered as one of the handsomest and most valuable of small growing trees. Being of moderate size, for we rarely meet with specimens of greater height than thirty feet, and of very compact habit, it is rendered peculiarly suitable for planting in confined spots, and where larger growing and more straggling subjects would be out of place. It withstands soot and smoke well, and is therefore much valued for suburban planting.

The long spikes of pretty red flowers are usually produced in great abundance, and as they stand well above the foliage, and are of firm lasting substance, they have a most pleasing and attractive appearance. As there are numerous forms of the red-flowered Horse Chestnut, differing much in the depth of flower colouring, it may be well to warn planters, for some of these have but a faint tinge of pink overlying a dirty yellowish-green groundwork, while the finest and most desirable tree has the flowers of a decided pinky-red. There is a double-flowered variety Aesculus glabra flore-pleno and one of particular merit named Aesculus rubicunda Briotii.

Aesculus Parviflora — Buckeye. North America, 1820. This is very distinct, and possesses feature which are shared by no other hardy tree or shrub in cultivation. Rarely exceeding twelve feet in height, and with a spread of often as much as twenty feet, this shrub forms a perfect hemisphere of foliage, and which, when tipped with the pretty fragrant flowers, renders it one of the most effective and handsome. The foliage is large, and resembles that of the common Horse Chestnut, while the pure white flowers, with their long projecting stamens and red-tipped anthers, are very pretty and imposing when at their best in July. It succeeds well in rich, dampish loam, and as a shrub for standing alone in any conspicuous position it has, indeed, few equals.

Aesculus Pavia — Red Buckeye. North America, 1711. A small growing and slender-branched tree or shrub, which bears an abundance of brownish-scarlet flowers. There are several good varieties, two of the best being Aesculus Pavia atrosanguinea, and Aesculus Pavia Whittleyana, with small, brilliant red flowers.

There are several other species, such as Aesculus Pavia humilis of trailing habit; Aesculus flava bearing pretty yellow flowers; Aesculus Pavia macrocarpa an open-headed and graceful tree; Aesculus flava discolor; and Aesculus chinensis; but they have not been found very amenable to cultivation, except in some parts of the South of England and Ireland.