Horse-chestnut-Aesculus hippocastanum L.-Poisonous plant


General poisoning notes:

Horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is and introduced tree that is found in the southern parts of Ontario and Quebec. It has poisoned cattle, horses, and pigs, causing sickness and death (Reynard and Norton 1942, Muenscher 1975). Human poisoning has also occurred.


Scientific Name: Aesculus hippocastanum L.
Vernacular name(s): horse-chestnut
Scientific family name: Hippocastanaceae
Vernacular family name: horse-chestnut

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

Horse-chestnut fruits, leaves, and flowers contain the chemical aesculin. Young leaves and flowers are especially toxic to cattle (Reynard and Norton 1942). Children occasionally ingest the fruit but few authenticated cases of poisoning are found in the literature, although death has been reported (Lampe and McCann 1985).

Toxic parts:

Flowers, leaves, mature fruit

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

Aesculin is a saponin (7-hydroxycoumarin 6-glucoside) that yields aesculetin (6,7-dihydroxycoumarin) upon hydrolysis. Aesculin is related to hydrocoumarin found in spoiled sweet-clover hay (Cooper and Johnson 1984). LD-50 measurements from nut extracts were as follows (Williams and Olsen 1984):
10.6 mg/g of body weight for chicks

10.7 mg/g of body weight for hamsters.

Toxic plant chemicals:


Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.



General symptoms of poisoning:

Death, depression, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, muscle twitching, paralysis, pupil dilation, restlessness, unconsciousness, vomiting, weakness.

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