If you’re looking for a truly spectacular shade tree, look
no further than the Turbinata chestnut, also known as the Japanese horse
chestnut, tree. This fast-growing tree introduced to China and North America in
the late 19 century has become popular as both an ornamental and
specimen tree. Interested in growing Japanese horse chestnuts? Read on for
additional Japanese horse chestnut info, including the care of this impressive
What is a Japanese Horse Chestnut?
The Japanese horse chestnut (Aesculus turbinata) is a member of the family Hippocastanaceae
along with other varieties of horse
chestnut and buckeye.
It is native only to Japan, on the island of Hokkaido and the central and
northern regions of Honshu.
Under ideal conditions, Turbinata chestnut trees can grow
rapidly and attain heights of up to 10 feet (30 m.). It has compound, palmate
leaves with 5-7 toothed leaflets attached at the same point on a central stalk.
Additional Japanese Horse Chestnut Info
This deciduous beauty offers year-round color and interest
in the landscape. The gorgeous large leaves turn a brilliant orange in the fall
while in the spring the entirety of the tree is covered with foot long (30 cm.)
creamy-white flower stalks accented with a hint of red, and winter buds are a cheerful
Spring borne flowers give way to an almost spineless, ovoid
yellow-green husk that encases a single brown seed. These seeds have been used
as an emergency ration for centuries and are to this day used in traditional
Japanese confectionaries such as rice cakes and balls. An extract made from the
seed has also been mixed with alcohol to treat bruises and sprains in early
Japanese folk medicine.
Japanese Horse Chestnut Care
Japanese horse chestnut can be grown in USDA zones 5-7. It
is tolerant of a wide range of soils provided they are well draining. When
growing Japanese horse chestnuts, situate the trees in full sun.
Horse chestnuts do not tolerate drought conditions, so be
sure to select a site not only in full sun, but with moist, humus-rich soil.
Plant the tree either in the spring or fall depending upon your climate. The
planting hole should be about three times the width of the root ball and deep
enough so that the root ball is flush with the soil.
Place the tree in the hole, making sure it is straight, and
then fill the hole with water. Allow the water to absorb and then back fill the
hole with the soil. Tamp the soil down lightly to remove any air pockets. Add a
layer of mulch to retain moisture and retard weeds.
watered trees regularly watered. Once established, trees need little care
beyond some pruning in late winter.