The seed is rich in saponins. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching the seed or flour in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].
Seed - cooked. It can be dried and ground into a powder and used as a gruel. The seed is quite large, it can be 3cm in diameter, and is easily harvested. Unfortunately it is also rich in saponins, these must be removed before it can be used as a food and this process also removes many of the minerals and vitamins, leaving behind mainly starch. See also the notes above on toxicity.
The following notes apply to A. californica, but are probably also relevant here:-
The seed needs to be leached of toxins before it becomes safe to eat - the Indians would do this by slow-roasting the nuts (which would have rendered the saponins harmless) and then cutting them into thin slices, putting them into a cloth bag and rinsing them in a stream for 2 - 5 days
Saponins in the seed are used as a soap substitute
. The saponins can be easily obtained by chopping the seed into small pieces and infusing them in hot water. This water can then be used for washing the body, clothes etc. Its main drawback is a lingering odour of horse chestnuts[K].
The seed is antirheumatic and emetic
. The sweet tasting seed is said to be used in the treatment of contracted limbs that are due to palsy or rheumatism
. It is also used in the treatment of stomach aches
Seed - best sown outdoors or in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe
. The seed germinates almost immediately and must be given protection from severe weather
. The seed has a very limited viability and must not be allowed to dry out. Stored seed should be soaked for 24 hours prior to sowing and even after this may still not be viable
. It is best to sow the seed with its 'scar' downwards
. If sowing the seed in a cold frame, pot up the seedlings in early spring and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Aesculus chinensis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
Prefers a deep loamy well-drained soil but is not too fussy
Plants grow best in eastern and south-eastern areas of England, probably needing a continental climate in order to thrive. Although the trees are very hardy when dormant, the new growth can be damaged by late spring frosts.
Most members of this genus transplant easily, even when fairly large
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
There are no interactions listed for Aesculus chinensis. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.
Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Aesculus chinensis.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
Material uses & Functions
Native Climate Zones
Adapted Climate Zones
Native Geographical Range
Root Zone Tendancy
? 1.01.1 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
? 2.02.1 Buchanan. R. A Weavers Garden. ()
? 3.03.13.2 Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
? 4.04.14.24.3 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
? 5.05.15.25.35.45.5 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
? 6.06.1 McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed. Grower Books ISBN 0-901361-21-6 (1985-00-00)
? 7.07.1 ? The Plantsman. Vol. 4. 1982 - 1983. Royal Horticultural Society (1982-00-00)
? Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
? 9.09.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
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