Aesculus indica 'Sydney Pearce'
Common Name: Indian horse chustnut 
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Pinkish-white tinged with yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Best grown in deep, fertile, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers cool, Mediterranean-type climates. In the U. S., Michael Dirr suggests this tree would do best in coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest from San Francisco to Vancouver, B.C.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aesculus indica, commonly known as Indian horsechestnut, is native to the northwestern Himalayas. It is a medium to large deciduous tree that typically grows to 40-60’ (occasionally to 100') tall with an upright, oval-rounded crown. This tree is noted for producing exceptional flowers in late spring to early summer plus excellent foliage throughout the growing season. Flowers bloom early to mid-summer in upright cylindrical panicles (to 12-15" long and 5" wide). Bloom occurs about one month later than the bloom for Aesculus hippocastanum (common horsechestnut). Each 4-petaled flower (to 1" long) is pinkish-white tinged with yellow markings (panicles appear pink/rose from a distance). Flowers are followed by inedible fruits in 2-3" rough but spineless capsules. Fruit capsules on the tree are interesting but not particularly ornamental. Gray-brown bark is smooth but fissured. Opposite, compound, palmate leaves, each with seven obovate to lanceolate leaflets (to 9" long), emerge bronze-green in spring, mature to dark green by summer and develop late but often attractive yellow to orange color in fall.

Horsechestnuts and chestnuts are in totally different families. Horsechestnuts and buckeyes (Aesculus) are in the horsechestnut family (Hippocastanaceae) and produce poisonous nuts. Chestnuts (Castanea) are in the beech family (Fagaceae) and produce edible nuts.

Genus name is the Latin name for a kind of oak bearing edible acorns but applied by Linnaeus to this genus.

Specific epithet means of India but has been applied to plants from the East Indies as well as into China.

'Sydney Pearce' was selected as a cultivar by Sydney Pearce, Assistant Curator of Kew Gardens, in 1935. In comparison to the species, this cultivar features deeper pink flowers in denser flower panicles.

Problems

This tree generally dislikes the cold winters and hot/humid summers in the St. Louis area. Powdery mildew, rust and anthracnose may occur. Bagworms, Japanese beetles and borers are infrequent but potentially troublesome. Leaf scorch (brown edges) may occur in droughty conditions or on sites exposed to wind. Leaf blotch is less of a problem than with some other species of Aesculus.

Garden Uses

A beautiful landscape tree for parks and large lawns.