Nuts From Red versus White Horse-Chestnuts

In an earlier post I talked about the difference between European (White) horse-chestnuts and Red Horse-chestnuts. Deb (Deb Weyrich-Cody) pointed out that Red Horse-Chestnuts are a cross between the white variety and the red buckeye.

Now the fruits have ripened and here are the nuts from a Red Horse-chestnut, and then from a European (White) horse-chestnut.

Don’t you think the patterning on the fruits is quite spectacularly lovely.

Click the photographs to see bigger versions.

European (White) Horse-Chestnut

And now here are the fruit from a European (White) horse-chestnut. As you can see, they are spherical and spiky. It’s the nuts from these trees that young boys use in the game of conkers. And when these spiky shells split apart I will gather some conkers from the ground to show you.

Spiky, spherical nuts of the White Horse Chestnut


  1. Joan E. Miller says:

    Well, that’s all new to me! I’ve never seen a red horse chestnut. The shell is very strange indeed. The white one is slightly similar to our native chestnuts in the U.S., Castanea dentata with its thorny orb, though ours have much ore of a spiny covering. Also, the Chinese chestnut, Castanea mollissima, is very similar to the American. The American chestnut was once a great and valuable tree, but alas, has been devastated by the chestnut blight. Some young ones do sprout and grow for a period, until succumbing to the blight. People are working on breeding a blight-resistant American chestnut and are hopeful of producing one.


    1. That’s a chestnut that you’re referring to. We have those as well, a Spanish variety – Castanea sativa (Spanish Chestnut). Here they are commonly called Sweet-Chestnuts to distinguish them from Horse-chestnuts.

      Those are the ones that people eat and which are often sold hot by street vendors – half a dozen in little paper cones – around Christmas. The Horse-chestnut is different. They are Aesculus species.

      European (White) horse-chestnut: Aesculus hippocastanum
      Red buckeye: Aesculus pavia
      Red horse-chestnut: Aesculus carnea

      That’s bad about the blight. I didn’t know until I read about it just now that it affects European sweet-chestnuts as well. I read that it basically caused the migration of agricultural workers in Greece because there were no crops for them to harvest.


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