Red Horsechestnut

sam_mdAugust 17, 2013

AKA Aesculus x carnea is a beautiful tree when in bloom. I understand that many of the parks and boulevards in Paris are decorated with this tree.
Here's my question, other than bloom, what redeeming qualities does this tree have? Following pix show the foliage disorder that we observe for fully three months of the year.
Here's a great example why one should observe trees all year round, not just when they are "pretty".
AFAIK clonal selections are all susceptable to this disorder.

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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

'Fort McNair' is the superior cultivar which is more resistant to leaf scortch and blotch.

To me the carnea selections are worthless as they don't have any fall color.

I perfer the Aesculus selectons with white flower panicles. Includding Bottlebrush, x Autumn Splendor and x Homestead.

All offer good fall color and much more resistant to the diseases seen on the Aesculus species.

Aesculus pavia which is a parent of x carnea is nicer in my opinion. Mine still looks fairly lustrious. It does start to go down hill late August, early September. However it is the first tree that leafs out in the spring.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 10:16PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

'Autumn Splendor' should have greenish flowers. When you start getting into the hybrids between eastern North American species various different colors (including ~orange) and combinations are present.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 1:47AM
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Dzitmoidonc(6)

Sam, the red A. pavia blooms are more important that just aesthetic for reasons. They open about the time hummingbirds are migrating north in our (yours and mine) area and are one of the few trees blooming when they do. My A. pavia also keeps a decent looking green cover late. A. flava looks like a tree to be mercifully cut down at the same time because of the leaf browning.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 4:18AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Autumn Splender's flowers start out green before they bloom. More yellowish then white I guess. Definitely not greenish in bloom.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 7:58AM
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j0nd03

'Fort McNair' planted around late April/early May this year. The foliage hasn't suffered much at all and looks very green and healthy.

Aesculus pavia planted a few weeks earlier than the FM. It defoliated after about a month because the sun was too much for the little tree. It did push out two little leaves afterward.

As you can see, they both receive the same conditions. They get shaded by a big j. virginiana around 2-3 till sunset. I actually planted the FM so close to replace the pavia when its leaves looked so terrible. Originally, the pavia had a grass free mulch mound like the FM, but I neglected it some after it dropped all its leaves. I'm going to move it to a shadier spot this fall. Both were in leaf when they were planted. The carnea hybrid is the clear winner in my yard WRT scorch/disease so far.

All pics were taken this morning. FTR 'Fort McNair' is my favorite spring flowering tree!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 8:59AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Main point being 'Autumn Splendor' is not white. 'Fort McNair' was selected in Washington, DC; another claimed to not scorch is 'O'Neill Red', this was introduced by Monrovia nursery in California. However, stock presented under this name at a retail nursery I worked at during the 1990s really looked like it consisted of variable seedlings - different specimens had different flowers etc. Since Aesculus x carnea produces fertile seeds and these are large, easily handled the temptation would certainly be there to grow seedlings under a cultivar name instead of bothering with grafts.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 12:59PM
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j0nd03

My main point being at least my clone of 'Fort McNair' might not be as scorch prone as the OP states

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 1:47PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Theyre smaller, reach sexual maturity earlier and are pink. Of course people will want them. But give me the original anyday!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 9:11PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

As we can see in the above pictures the leaves of 'Fort McNair' are more like those of A. pavia, possibly to at least some extent the scorch susceptibility splits according to whether a clone has leaves more like A. hippocastanum or more like A. pavia.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 1:48AM
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sam_md


I passed by this Red Horsechestnut today in the sleepy little hamlet of Delta, Pa. At first glance I thought it was a dying tree. I have no clue as to cultivar.
Interesting that both Monrovia and Weston Nurseries declare 'Ft McNair' to have "disease resistant" foliage and pink flowers.
I'm not entirely sure that the disorder is a disease. Since it happens in the hottest, dryest time of the year isn't it likely that the problem in the pics is leaf scorch rather than some sort of biological pathogen?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 3:42PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

My favorite Aesculus is the Yellow Buckeye, A. flava.

Usually decent to good fall color, and the yellow blooms are subtly very beautiful. Also cleaner, less scorch-prone foliage.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 4:01PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The two main categories are pests and diseases. Physiological leaf burn falls in the latter.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 5:29PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Wow. I always thought the scorch was due to some fungus or other pathogen attack. I feel kind of stupid not to have made the dry weather connection.....
I may have to try ft mcNair after all. I've been worried about getting attached to a beautiful bloomer that has pathetic summer foliage.
I've also heard the seedling strain story. One nurseryperson went as far to say they did come true from seed and that's how they grew and sold them.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 10:16PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

It's heat/dryness. It doesn't even have to be that "dry" per se. They just seem to need a LOT of water when it's even moderately hot, such as typical Eastern and Midwestern summer conditions.

Even in wet/cool summers they scorch around here. Same thing when I lived in Ohio.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 11:34PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Also see it here, the dullest major metropolitan area in the country. But don't remember it being as bad as in the pictures on this thread.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:13AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Both pictures are showing leaf blotch from what I can tell. Have you had alot of rain and humdity this year? Although you said you see that every year?

The establshied x carnea don't look nearly as bad around here. There are several planted in parking lot islands at the local hospital that don't get irrigated. I'll take pics when I'm there this week. No idea on the cultivars.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:30AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

A handbook for my area observes

Some trees will show symptoms of this nonparasitic problem year after year, regardless of the weather

Here is a link that might be useful: Horse-chestnut (Aesculus sp.)-Leaf Scorch

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 4:02PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Yeah, like BBoy says this is a problem even in maritime climates. Last time I was in Paris, toward the end of summer, many of the city's famous horse chestnuts had a rather ratty appearance.
Even in the wettest summer since I've lived here (10"+ in June, 7" in July, already have had more than the normal Aug. rainfall) my purported A. X planteriensis is somewhat yellowed and partly scorched. I think if you want one, you just have to deal with this possibilty. Don't plant it in the most prominent part of your garden.
They are also rather slow to develop to blooming size unless you buy a blooming size plant from a nursery. The small ones I got at Forestfarm about 3 years ago look like they will take at least another 5 until they are blooming.

Interested twist though, a potted 'Ft. McNair' (both from Ff) "died" very quickly last spring (2012). Had lost all its leaves by mid-summer. I was positive it was dead. Because of my laziness I left the carcass amid some containers awaiting recycling of their potting soil. Lo & behold, next spring the darn thing had leafed out again. No, it did not grow from below the graft. Surely one of the most impressive "near death" plant experiences I'd ever seen. Makes one wonder if such behavior is just part of these plant's evolutionary schtick. I knew of a large A. X hippocastanum in Fairfax County that mostly lost its leaves by late summer every year. But it hadn't kept it from growing at a good clip, on old farm soil. I knew the man who had planted it in the 1940s when he bought the farm. He was in the Navy and had brought the "conkers" back from somewhere in Europe. Sadly the tree is gone now, a victim of McMansion development.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 4:58PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Damn, so thats where all the rain went! I just opened my $300 July water bill tonight. August will be worse. I'm officially giving up on watering the rest of the year.

Leaf scorch and blotch look very similar.
If I was a betting man the first one is scorch and the second is blotch because of the defined yellow margins. There might be more to identifying the differences but time is slim this evening!

End of the day if you want pink flowers on an Aesulus plant A. pavia. If you don't absolutely ned pink flowers go with the yellow buckeye hybrids (Autumn Splendor and Homestead).

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 7:33PM
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j0nd03

*BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZER*

If you want the best pink, get a carnea hybrid like Fort McNair!!!!!

I've seen many pavia in bloom and they were all red (not bright pink!) and not near as noticeable as Fort McNair =-p

/HomerRant

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 7:45PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

A. pavia can also be yellow. Here there is a fungal leaf disease present that is encouraged by damp springs.

This post was edited by bboy on Wed, Aug 28, 13 at 17:40

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:54PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

An Aesculus pavia species plant with yellow flowers?

Are you talking about a sub-species or hybrid?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 5:14PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

The x carnea is this little parking lot median is completely free of any issues.

Looks just like Jon's but 10x the size. Wet spring, very dry summer starting mid July this year.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 8:46PM
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sam_md

Did you know that Aeschylus was the father of Greek Tragedy? Interesting that this genus produces poisonous seed, fit for neither man nor beast.
Pictured here is Common Horse Chestnut, native to Europe and not well-suited to the mid-Atlantic. This is the pistillate parent of Red Horsechestnut and I suspect contributes the congenital defect. You will forgive me for using tomorrow's date :)
Red Buckeye, the staminate parent OTOH is a North American native makes it through the season without foliage damage.

And here is the wider shot, what a beautiful sight. How would you like to have that in your front yard. Does this tree enhance the value of the property?
IMO any tree with Aesculus hippocastanum blood in it is not fit for the mid-Atlantic.

These pics were taken today in NE Maryland.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 5:12PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yellow variants are a normal part of the expression of Aesculus pavia genetics.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 5:42PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Aesculus hippocastanum is no longer grown or sold in this area. There are several specimens that look worse than what you show here.

I still think Aesculus x arnoldiana 'Autumn Splendor' which is cross of Aesculus flava, Aesculus pavia and Aesculus glabra, is this only Aesculus that should be planted. Same goes with x Homestead. I select these over x carnea selections as they have fall color.

As for the species plants only flava (not sure if octandra is the latest species name or not), pavia and parviflora /var. serotina should only be planted.

I didn't have any luck with Chinese and Japanese horsechestnut. Wonder if anyone else has experience?

Here is my pavia foilage quality. Starts to wear out this time of year.

And here is Autumn Splendor

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 8:03AM
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j0nd03

I see what bboy was talking about. Your pavia foliage is very similar to my FM.

Love the foliage on the Autumn Splendor, too. Have you witnessed quality fall foliage on it? I know last year was a bust year for fall foliage in many places in the east.

I have an Aesculus glabra var. arguta ready to be planted out this fall, too =)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 9:33AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

A few days ago I stumbled upon an Aesculus hippocastanum with surprisingly little foliar damage. Right next to one in the same yard that showed much more browning...as would be typical with our hot summers. (remember, even in Paris this sometimes happens) I wonder if it's a favorable random genetic variance.
Pictures soon...I hope.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:50AM
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MulchMama

Speaking of Aesculus hippocastanum, I've noticed they scorch like the above photos all over England. It justcomes with having that tree, I guess.

We have a Fort McNair, and it only just started looking ratty a week ago. Normally it starts looking bad in midsummer. Still, it's my favorite tree. Nothing is prettier in springtime.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 1:05PM
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sam_md

Hi MulchMama, you're helping me to prove my point, your tree is beautiful in the Spring. Could you post a pic of what it looks like now?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This pic is from the Aesculus pavia growing on the hill in back of Winterthur Museum. It happens to be a beautiful specimen of Red Buckeye which is the staminate parent of Red Horsechestnut. I took this pic two days ago after a prolonged period of drought here. I cannot fault this shrub/tree, the foliage is without blemish.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 3:07PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Horsechestnuts/buckeyes typically get leaf-scorch late in the season. One that doesn't is bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) -- leaves are immaculate until dropping.

It's a large shrub/small tree tho.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:45AM
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j0nd03

Here's mine Sam. We went about a month with no rain and highs in the 90's to 100 with a very recent cool down since the last time I posted a pic. The foliage is definitely the worse for wear, however, it is still a stunner in spring like MulchMama's photo indicates. More so than any other buckeye I have seen. Also of note, both were planted this spring and the a. pavia has no leaves left at all! What is the exposure on your pavia and please define a Maryland 'drought' and the temperatures during this dry period. I believe your tree in my climate would not look nearly so respectable.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:08PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

There has been a tendency for plants of "Aesculus chinensis" to turn out to be A. indica instead. This isn't 100% hardy even in Seattle (USDA 8), where the ends of the branches die back during colder winters.

A. octandra is a synonym of A. flava.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 1:46PM
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MulchMama

Sam, here are pics taken today. This faces south in Kansas. That is an invitation to leaf scorch. It's always ratty this time of year, but it is usually worse than you see here. This only began a few weeks ago, while it usually gets ratty looking in early August.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 4:20PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Below's a description of the Aesculus leaf-scorch culprit -- a fungus:

Here is a link that might be useful: Aesculus leaf-scorch

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 11:50AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Leaf bloch and leaf scorch are two different things!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 1:38PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I have to say I love this genus.

What's odd is - I've seen the opposite of some posters here - generally, A. flava does NOT scorch, but A. pavia does!

I think the genuine, GRAFTED Ft. McNair is relatively scorch resistant. I can handle something that defoliates by the end of September, but not July or August.

A. flava actually lasts long enough to have good fall color here. Although there are some that seem to scorch (I think they are flava, but might be glabra) - but they're planted adjacent to an asphalt parking lot.

A. parvifolia always looks great.

Haven't had experience w/Autumn Splendor etc.

I think, aside from seedgrown A. hippocastanum and A. glabra, which are lost causes here in MD at least, the rest are probably best sited like a Sugar Maple (although Acer saccharum is not nearly as scorch prone as most Aesculus); keep it away from pavement, give it room to spread, and a nice moist (but not waterlogged) soil. A north-facing slope also probably helps, as does some afternoon shade.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 3:06PM
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