Here is a striking new Buckeye, or Horse chestnut, from the University of Minnesota, in the US. It is called 'Autumn Splendor' buckeye, or Aesculus x arnoldiana 'Autumn Splendor' and is a cross of Aesculus flava with Aesculus pavia and Aesculus x glabra. One would expect a great deal from such elaborate parentage and Autumn Splendor is a spectacular introduction which has all of the well-known assets of a Horse chestnut along with one additional factor that really puts it over the top, which is the unusual trait of bright red autumn color.

Autumn Splendor has pale chartreuse leaves in early spring followed by showy spikes of creamy white flowers that ride above the foliage. And these showy flowers make the tree a centerpiece of the mid spring garden.  While the fruit is not ornamentally significant, it is a boon to wildlife, especially squirrels, which would qualify Autumn Splendor buckeye for a Wildlife Friendly garden. The emerald green leaves of summer are very handsome but by autumn they become spectacular as they begin turning a bright scarlet, bright enough to rival the best maples, which is unheard of from a Buckeye.

Autumn Splendor is a dense rounded tree with a coarse texture that can be contrasted effectively against finer foliaged plants. And its size and form qualify it as an effective shade tree while its bloom and autumn color render it the perfect specimen tree. It is small to medium sized and will fit onto most urban plots. It only reaches 25 to 30 feet in height and almost as wide and grows at a medium rate. It is drought tolerant once established and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 60 years or more.

Autumn Splendor Horse chestnut will do best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers average to moist conditions and is not particular to soil type or pH and is highly tolerant of urban pollution. It does well in the warmer parts of Canada and across most of the US. It is fully hardy across the UK and would be well suited to temperate Australia and New Zealand. But as always, it may not be found in the big wholesale nurseries but more likely in select tree nurseries.


Autumn Splendor buckeye

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