Aesculus - Horse Chestnut Trees
The genus was named by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) as Aesculus was the Roman name for an edible acorn. Notably, the seeds are not edible and are in fact toxic if they are consumed when raw. Humans have found a way of cleaning the seeds so that they are no longer toxic and then cooking them, but many animals have been poisoned by ingesting the seeds. Humans do not tend to go to the trouble of eating the seeds, and they are more commonly used for playing conkers. The conkers are made from the fallen autumn seeds which are removed from their spikey outer shell, and then attached to string through a drilled hole in the middle of the conker. The object of the game is to 'conquer' the other player by smashing their conker.
The trees within the genus generally grow to be tall and strong, with upright branches and masses of large leaves. The flowers are also highly attractive and grow in panicles. The trees are a great choice for planting in a larger garden and they will grow to become a real feature of any outdoor space.