Even though the Horse Chestnut is seen throughout the temperate zones in the Northern Hemisphere today, the species originated in the Balkan Peninsula. Greece and Albania contained the significant proportion of this native population. In fact, the geographical area including Greece and Albania house a large amount of biological diversity. The US Forest Service reports that Albania alone includes almost 30% of all plant species in Europe even though it only encompasses a land area smaller than that of Maryland.  The Convention on Biological Diversity reports that up to 25% of the estimated 50,000 animal species in Greece are endemic to the country.  In fact, Greece is part of the larger Mediterranean Basin biological hotspot

These beautiful trees migrated outside of the Balkan Peninsula due to widespread cultivation. People began to cultivate this tree to a large extent because of its ornamental features. today, members of the Aesculus Hippocastanum extend throughout the Northern Temperate Zone.  They are particularly present in the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States. The Horse Chestnut has even been so successful in these non-native environments that it has escaped cultivation in many areas.  Specifically in the United States the National Park Service stated that in 2006 Georgia, Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all reported this species as invasive. 



    A large variety of habitats can sustain Horse Chestnut trees because of their strong resilience to environmental factors. These trees easily thrive in almost any soil including clay, chalk, sand, and acidic/alkaline soil. However, this being said, Aesculus Hippocastanum prefer moist, well-drained and fertile soil. Ideally the environment would also have full sun with little chance of drought. This is because any hot, dry situation could cause leaf scorch and other problems. This tree needs a relatively mediocre amount of area to grow as they can spread wider than 8 meters (approx. 26 feet) and obtain heights of about 12 meters (approx. 40 feet).  This is shorter than an average Laurel tree but taller than the a common apple tree. However, even though this is a significantly sized tree, it can thrive with little room for root growth.

    These resilient characteristics allow the Horse Chestnut to be cultivated in many different environments all throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are readily grown in parks, along streets, on campuses, in large public areas, within golf courses, and arboreta. Landscapers and/or residents in downtown areas with elevated pollution levels will have trouble growing Horse Chestnut trees because they are sensitive to pollution. Also, their large size and their allelopathic nature of their roots restrict the number able to grow successfully within small areas.

If you would like to read about another North American organism visit Morel.

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