Here is a stunning landscape tree for larger gardens, especially for those who live in climates too cold for Crape myrtles and Jacarandas, such as the upper United States, the UK and southern Canada. It is the Red horse chestnut, a hybrid of the common Horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum, and Red buckeye, Aesculus pavia. It is a deciduous tree that grows 30 to 40 feet tall with pinkish or red blossoms that make a lavish display in spring. ‘Briotii’ is the cultivar that was named in 1858 for Pierre Louis Briot, nurseryman at the Trianon palace. In comparison to Aesculus x carnea, this cultivar is famous for its darker red flowers and larger flower panicles. The gorgeous red flowers appear in upright clusters, or panicles, and are 8-10” long and adorn the tree in mid-spring. The flowers are then followed by slightly prickly husky capsules, each typically containing two or three nuts which are poisonous, so plant accordingly. ‘Briotii’ is a small, oval to rounded, deciduous tree that features dark green palmate compound leaves with 5 to 7 spreading oblong leaflets. The autumn color is somewhat undistinguished but sometimes makes a good yellow.

Red horse chestnut likes full sun or light shade and moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils. It makes a superb shade tree that will brighten any spring garden. As usual, this special tree will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.


Red horsechestnut

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