Med Plant Data Base


Moldo-german project 10.820.09.09GA
«Evaluation of the pharmaceutic potential
of medicinal plants from natural habitats from Republic of Moldova


Aesculus hippocastanum L.

KINGDOM: Plantae » Class: Magnoliopsida » Order: Sapindales » Family: Sapindaceae

Aesculus hippocastanum L.


Aesculus hippocastanum L.


Kingdom: Plantae

Class: Magnoliopsida 
 Order: Sapindales

Family: Sapindaceae

Genus: Aesculus

Species: A. hippocastanum

Plant description

It can reach 30 meters tall, and
has striking candles of blooms in spring and early summer. Individual flowers
have crumpled white petals with a yellow basal patch that changes to a dull
red colour. The fruit has a lathery cae covered with short pickles. The seed
are used to play conkers.

 The trunk of the tree is very erect
and columnar, and grows very rapidly to a great , with widely spreading
branches. The bark is smooth and greyishgreen in colour: it has been used
with some success in dyeing yellow. The wood, being soft and spongy, is of
very little use for timber.

 The horse chestnut's scientific name
is Aesculus hippocastanum. It grows naturally in the moist mountain valleys
of parts of Albania and Greece. In the UK, horse chestnuts have been grown as
ornamental trees, particularly in avenues or along roadsides for their
spectacular "candles" of white flowers all over the tree in the

 These trees are seen at their best
when grown in the open reaching up to 35m (115ft) with the arching branches
normally turned up at the ends. It is one of the largest flowering trees of
the temperate world.

 The sturdy, many-ribbed boughs and
thick buds of the Horse Chestnut make it a conspicuous tree even in winter.
The buds are protected with a sticky substance: defended by fourteen scales
and gummed together, thus no frost or damp can harm the leaf and flower
tucked safely away within each terminal bud, which develops with startling
rapidity with the approach of the first warm days after the winter. The bud
will sometimes develop the season's shoot in the course of three or four
weeks. The unfolding of the bud is very rapid when the sun melts the resin
that binds it so firmly together.

 Horse chestnut leaves,flowers and

 The large leaves are divided into
five or seven leaflets, spreading like fingers from the palm of the hand and
have their margins finely toothed. All over the small branches may be found
the curious marks in the shape of minute horse-shoes, from which, perhaps,
the tree gets its name. They are really the leaf scars. Wherever a bygone
leaf has been, can be traced on the bark a perfect facsimile of a horse-shoe,
even to the seven nail markings, which are perfectly distinct. And among the
twigs may be found some with an odd resemblance to a horse's foot and

 The leaves are large and compound,
in the form of a palm with the five or six leaflets spreading out like the
fingers of a fat hand. The leaves fall in autumn to leave large
horseshoe-shaped leaf scars.

 The flowers are mostly white, with a
reddish tinge, or marking, and grow in dense, erect spikes. There is also a
dull red variety, and a less common yellow variety, which is a native of the
southern United States, but is seldom seen here.The flowers then give rise to
the large globular green spiky fruit. These split open about September to
reveal one to three large shiny, mahogany brown seeds or nuts - the

 The fruit is a brown nut, with a
very shining, polished skin, showing a dull, rough, pale-brown scar where it
has been attached to the inside of the seed-vessel, a large green husk,
protected with short spines, which splits into three valves when it falls to
the ground and frees the nut.

 Cultivation of horse chestnut:

 The Horse Chestnut is generally
raised from the nuts, which are collected in the autumn and sown in the early
spring. The nuts should be preserved in sand during the winter, as they may
become mouldy and rot. If steeped in water, they will germinate more quickly.
They will grow 3 foot the first summer and require little care, being never
injured by the cold of this climate. They thrive in most soils and
situations, but do best in a good, sandy loam.

 Part Used Medicinally:

 The bark and the fruit, from both of
which a fluid extract is made. The bark is stripped in the spring and dried
in the sun, or by slight artificial heat, and when dry, occurs in commerce in
flattened pieces, 4 to 5 inches long and about 1 to 1 1/2 inch broad-about 1
to 1 1/4 inch thick, greyish-brown externally, showing corky elongated warts,
and on the inner surface pinkish-brown, finely striated longitudinally. The
bark is odourless, but has a bitter astringent taste.

 Preparations:Fluid extract, fruit, 5
to 20 drops. Fluid extract, bark, 1/2 to 2 drachms.

Diffusion area

Cultivation for its spectacular
spring flowers is successful in a range of climatic conditions provided
summers are not too hot, with trees being grown as far north as Edmonton,
Alberta, the Faroe Islands, and Harstad, Norway. In more southern areas, growth
is best in cooler mountain climates.

It is native to a small area in the mountains of the Balkans in southeast
Europe, in small areas in northern Greece, Albania, the Republic of
Macedonia, Serbia, and Bulgaria (Pindus Mountains mixed forests and Balkan
mixed forests). It is widely cultivated throughout the temperate world.


Is widely cultivated in gardens,
parks and along the streets.

Therapeutic actions

In Britain and Ireland, the nuts
are used for the popular children's game conkers. During the two world wars,
horse-chestnuts were used as a source of starch which in turn could be used
via the Clostridium acetobutylicum fermentation method devised by Chaim
Weizmann to produce acetone. This acetone was then used as a solvent which
aided in the process of ballistite extrusion into cordite, which was then
used in military armaments.

The nuts, especially those that are young and fresh, are slightly poisonous,
containing alkaloid saponins and glucosides. Although not dangerous to touch,
they cause sickness when eaten. Some mammals, notably deer, are able to break
down the toxins and eat them safely. They are reputed to be good for horses
with wind, but this is unproven and feeding them to horses is not advisable.
The saponin aescin (a complex mixture of triterpene glycosides), however, has
been used for health purposes (such as varicose veins, edema, sprains) and is
available in food supplements, as is the coumarin glucoside aesculin.

In the past, horse-chestnut seeds were used in France and Switzerland for
whitening hemp, flax, silk and wool. They contain a soapy juice, fit for
washing of linens and stuffs, for milling of caps and stockings, etc., and
for fulling of cloth. For this, 20 horse-chestnut seeds were sufficient for
six liters of water. They were peeled, then rasped or dried, and ground in a
malt or other mill. The water must be soft, either rain or river water; hard
well water will not work. The nuts are then steeped in cold water, which soon
becomes frothy, as with soap, and then turns milky white. The liquid must be
stirred well at first, and then, after standing to settle, strained or poured
off clear. Linen washed in this liquid, and afterwards rinsed in clear
running water, takes on an agreeable light sky-blue colour. It takes spots
out of both linen and wool, and never damages or injures the cloth.

In Bavaria the chestnut is the typical tree for a beer garden. Originally
they were planted for their deep shade which meant that beer cellar owners
could cut ice from local rivers and lakes in winter to cool the Märzen
Lager beer well into summer. Nowadays guests enjoy the shade to keep their
heads cool - even after the second Maß (a mug with a liter of

Conkers have been threatened by the leaf-mining moth Cameraria ohridella,
whose larvae feed on horse chestnut leaves. The moth was described from
Macedonia where the species was discovered in 1984 but took 18 years to reach

Aesculus hippocastanum is used in Bach flower remedies. When the buds are
used it is referred to as "Chestnut Bud" and when the flowers are
used it is referred to as "White Chestnut".

Thus, Is being used for treatment of illnesses of respiratory (22%),
gastrointestinal (19%) and urinary and genital system (9%), for treatment of
skin conditions (11%), as well as for nervous system and heart diseases
(16%).The study of herbal medications for common ailments in the elderly
reveals that Aesculus hippocastanum seed extracts alleviate the subjective
symptoms and reduce the objective signs of chronic venous insufficiency.
N        The action of this drug is
most marked on the lower bowel, producing engorged hemorrhoidal veins, with
characteristic backache, with absence of actual constipation. Much pain but
little bleeding. Venous stasis general, varicose veins of purple color;
everything is slowed down, digestion, heart, bowels, etc. Torpor and
congestion of the liver and portal system, with constipation. The back aches
and gives out and unfits the patient for business. Flying pains all over.
Fullness in various parts; dry, swollen mucous membranes. Throat with
hemorrhoidal conditions.

Biologically active substances

Analysis has shown that the nuts
contain 3.04 per cent. water; 2.66 per cent. ash; 10.99 crude protein; oil,
5.34 per cent.; and 73 97 per cent. carbohydrates. Experiments conducted at
Wye College proved that the most satisfactory way to prepare the Horse
Chestnuts as food for animals was to soak partly crushed nuts in cold water
overnight, then boil them for half an hour or so and strain off the water.
The nuts were then dried, partially husked and reduced to a meal, which,
though slightly bitter, had a pleasant taste and appearance. The meal was fed
to a calf, a sheep and two pigs. The calf received up to 5 lb. of the meal
per day and made good increase in live weight, and the sheep suffered no ill
effects, but the pig refused to eat the food containing the meal.

 It is concluded that Horse Chestnuts
are not poisonous to any of the farm animals experimented with, within the
limits of what they can be induced to eat, and that they form a highly nutritious
food. Chestnut meal is a fairly concentrated food, and contains about 14 per
cent of starch, it being calculated that 1 Ib. of Horse Chestnut meal would
be equivalent to 1 Ib. 1 OZ. of feeding barley, 1 lb. 4 OZ. of oats, 1 lb. 8
oz. of bran, and 3 lb. 5 OZ. of good meadow hay.

 Effective Constituents of Horse
chestnut(Aesculus hippocastanum):

 Saponins,a complex mixture known as
"aescin", composed of acylated glycosides of protoaesigenin and
barringtogenol-C and including hippocaesculin and many others.

 Mechanism of aescin from

 The seeds are the source of a
saponin known as aescin, which has been shown to promote circulation through
the veins. Aescin fosters normal tone in the walls of the veins, thereby
promoting return of blood to the heart. This has made both topical and
internal horse chestnut extracts popular in Europe for the treatment of
chronic venous insufficiency and, to a lesser extent, varicose veins. Aescin
also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce
edema (swelling with fluid) following trauma, particularly following sports
injury, surgery, and head injury.

 A topical aescin preparation is very
popular in Europe for the treatment of acute sprains during sporting events.

 Other Phytochemicals:Horse chestnuts
also contain flavonoids, sterols, and tannins,tianshic acid;fumaric
acid;N-Acetyl-L-Glutamic Acid;Beta-sitosterol-3-O-glucoside;Beta-sitosterol,etc.

Indigenous medicinal plants in databases

Coada soricelului – Achillea

millefolium L.

Corn – Cornus mas L.

Cosaci – Astragalus dasyanthus


Cretusca – Filipendula ulmaria L

Crusin – Frangula alnus Mill.

Cucurbetica – Aristolochia

clematidis L.

Centers, institutes, research labs of medicinal plants


Euro+Med Plantbase Project: Aesculus hippocastanum

Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN

Lack, H. Walter. "The Discovery and Rediscovery of the Horse
Chestnut". Arnoldia 61 (4).


Højgaard, A., Jóhansen, J., & Ødum, S. (1989). A
century of tree planting on the Faroe Islands. Ann. Soc. Sci. Faeroensis
Supplementum 14.

 "Aesculin". Plant Poisons.

 Lees, D.C.; Lopez-Vaamonde, C.;
Augustin, S. 2009. Taxon page for Cameraria ohridella Deschka & Dimic
1986. In: EOLspecies, First Created:
2009-06-22T13:47:37Z. Last Updated: 2009-08-10T12:57:23Z.

 Sterling, Toby (24 August 2010).
"Anne Frank's 'beautiful' tree felled by Amsterdam storm". The
Retrieved 24 August 2010.

 Gray-Block, Aaron (23 August 2010).
"Anne Frank tree falls over in heavy wind, rain". Reuters. Retrieved 24 August 2010.

 Royal Society of Chemistry (5
October 2009). "Are spiders scared of conker chemicals?". Press
Retrieved 2009-10-11.

 "Extent of the bleeding canker
of horse chestnut problem". UK Forestry Commission.
Retrieved 2010-01-09.

 "Other common pest and disease
problems of horse chestnut". UK Forestry Commission.
Retrieved 2010-01-09.

 "Phytophthora bleeding
canker". Royal Horticultural Society. 11 November 2009. Retrieved

Genetic characteristics

2n = 40

Gathering place (figure should be increased)

Aesculus hippocastanum L.
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