horse chestnut

horse chestnut
1. a tree, Aesculus hippocastanum, native to the Old World, having digitate leaves and upright clusters of white flowers.
2. the shiny, brown, nutlike seed of this tree or of other trees of the genus Aesculus.
[1590-1600; trans. of NL castanea equina; so named from its use in treating respiratory diseases of horses]

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 any of several trees belonging to the genus Aesculus in the horse chestnut family (Hippocastanaceae), native to the North Temperate Zone. They have palmately compound leaves and erect flower clusters, often in the shape of an inverted cone. Prickly green husks ripen and split in fall to release one or two shiny mahogany-brown nuts. The tree's common name is said to come from Turkey, where the nuts were fed to horses to cure broken wind.

      Perhaps the best-known species is the common, or European, horse chestnut (A. hippocastanum), native to southeastern Europe but widely cultivated as a large shade and street tree; it grows to a height of 30 m (100 feet). The Champs-Élysées in Paris is lined with rows of horse-chestnut trees.

      Japanese horse chestnut (A. turbinata) is as tall as the European species but is distinctive for its remarkably large leaves, up to 60 cm (2 feet) across. The Indian horse chestnut (A. indica), with slender, pointed leaflets, has attractive feathery flower spikes with a bottlebrush effect. Red horse chestnut (A. × carnea), a hybrid of A. hippocastanum and A. pavia, grows up to 20 m (65 feet) and has flesh-coloured to scarlet flower spikes.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Horse-chestnut — may refer to:* Horse chestnut (tree), the genus Aesculus of 20–25 species of deciduous trees and shrubs * Horse chestnut leaf miner, moth of the lepidopteran family Gracillariidae * Horse Chestnut (horse), a South African Thoroughbred racehorse …   Wikipedia

  • horse chestnut — horse chestnuts also horse chestnut 1) N COUNT A horse chestnut is a large tree which has leaves with several pointed parts and shiny reddish brown nuts called conkers that grow in cases with points on them. 2) N COUNT Horse chestnuts are the… …   English dictionary

  • horse-chestnut — 1590s, from HORSE (Cf. horse) + CHESTNUT (Cf. chestnut). A tree probably native to Asia, introduced in England c.1550; the name also was extended to similar N.Amer. species such as the buckeye. Said to have been so called because it was food for… …   Etymology dictionary

  • horse chestnut — noun count 1. ) a large tree that has white or pink flowers, and produces shiny hard brown seeds 2. ) a seed from the horse chestnut tree …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • horse chestnut — n. 1. any of a genus (Aesculus) of shrubs and trees of the horse chestnut family, including buckeyes; esp., a tree ( A. hippocastanum) with large, palmately compound leaves, clusters of white flowers, and glossy, brown seeds 2. a seed of this… …   English World dictionary

  • Horse-chestnut — Horse chest nut, Horsechestnut Horse chest nut, n. 1. (Bot.) The large nutlike seed of a species of {[AE]sculus} ({[AE]sculus Hippocastanum}), formerly ground, and fed to horses, whence the name. The seed is not considered edible by humans.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • horse-chestnut — [hôrs′ches΄nut] adj. 〚transl. of obs. botanical L Castanea equina: reason for name uncert.〛 designating a family (Hippocastanaceae, order Sapindales) of dicotyledonous trees, including the horse chestnuts * * * …   Universalium

  • horse chestnut — ► NOUN 1) a large deciduous tree producing nuts (conkers) enclosed in a spiny case. 2) a conker. ORIGIN horse chestnuts are said to have been an Eastern remedy for chest diseases in horses …   English terms dictionary

  • horse-chestnut — [hôrs′ches΄nut] adj. [transl. of obs. botanical L Castanea equina: reason for name uncert.] designating a family (Hippocastanaceae, order Sapindales) of dicotyledonous trees, including the horse chestnuts …   English World dictionary

  • horse chestnut — [ US ˈ. ˌ..] n 1.) a large tree which produces shiny brown nuts and has white or pink flowers 2.) a nut from this tree = ↑conker …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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