Crooked Run Valley
Horse-Chestnut (Family Hippocastanaceae)
Hippocastanaceae is the name given to a small group of trees and
shrubs, when this group is treated as a family. Its most widespread
genus is Aesculus (the horse-chestnuts and buckeyes, syn. Pavia).
However, the American genus Billia and the Chinese genus
Handeliodendron are also sometimes included in this family.
Members of this family are closely related to the large, mostly
tropical family Sapindaceae, and some systems of plant taxonomy
include the members of the Hippocastanaceae, along with members
of the Aceraceae, in an enlarged family Sapindaceae.
Family Hippocastanaceae is comprised of three genera and 15 species
distributed in Asia (Himalayas to Japan), SE Europe, North America,
with Genus Billia being found in Central and South America.
Members of Family Hippocasanaceae are used extensively for orna-
mental purposes. The most familiar member of the genus worldwide
is the common horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum, native to a
small area of the Balkans in southeast Europe, but widely cultivated
throughout the temperate world. The yellow buckeye Aesculus flava
is also a valuable ornamental tree with yellow flowers, but is less
widely planted. Among the smaller species, the bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora also makes a very interesting and unusual flower-
ing shrub. Several other members of the genus are used as ornamentals,
and several horticultural hybrids have also been developed, most notably
the red horse chestnut Aesculus X carnea, a hybrid between Aesculus
hippocastanum and Aesculus pavia.