The horse chestnut tree is a large flowering tree in the sapindaceae family. In spring, it blooms clusters of tiny white flowers with yellow and red bases. From midsummer to autumn, the trees grow spiny green pods that fall to the ground and split open revealing the seed, known as a conker. Horse chestnut trees also have a peculiar bark pattern, twisted limbs and deciduous leaves composed of five to seven leaflets.
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The horse chestnut tree is native to the southern Europe and has been grown in the United Kingdom since the 1600s. It is now widely planted throughout the UK.
The horse chestnut tree grows to a height of between 8 to 23 metres (25 to 75 feet). It has a bushy, medium-wide spreading crown.
The horse chestnut tree prefers full sun to partial shade and tolerates many soil types, although it grows best in moist, well-drained soil. It is hardy in most parts of the UK, and the tree is resistant to most pests.
Although attractive and unusual, the horse chestnut tree is not for everyone as it litters the lawn annually with its conkers. These are large and can be thrown forcefully from lawnmowers, so they should be raked up before mowing.
Horse chestnuts are susceptible to diseases, including leaf blotch and coral spot canker.
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