Properties of timber - Horse Chestnut

The common Horse Chesnut (sic) is a native of the northern or central parts of Asia, from which it was introduced into Europe about the middle of the sixteenth century. Its progress can be traced from parts of Northern Asia to Constantinople, thence to Vienna, and thence to Paris, where the first tree was planted in 1615. It is very beautiful in the arrnagement of its branches, which give it the form of a paraboloid; in the shape of its leaves, and in its pyramids of large white flowers, delicately marked with red and yellow.

It grows very rapidly, and to a great height. The timber is soft and spongy, and not durable, so is of little value. It is white, and in every way inferior to the lime, as it does not stand the tool, and almost anything will scratch it. It has sometimes been used by the turner, and also for pipes, but although it is cheap, the advantages of using it are very questionable.

As it requires a good soil, it is only worth cultivating as an ornamental tree.

The Turks are said to grind the nuts and mix them with the food of their horses; hence the name. They are said to be eaten whole by sheep and poultry when boiled, but hogs refuse them both raw and boiled.

The bark of the horse chesnut has been used as a yellow dye.

The leaves fall early in the season, and then the tree is rather unsightly.

summarised from "The Library of Entertaining Knowledge - Timber trees" (1829), pub. Charles Knight, Pall Mall.

ND, habitat21

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