Horse chestnut

Aesculus hippocastanum

Find this plant in Hortus Dijkspark.

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H. Zell [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)] -

Description

Aesculus hippocastanum, more commonly known as the horse chestnut, is a deciduous tree - part of the Hippocastanaceae family. It grows quickly, reaching a height of about 30m. 

Roasted, the seeds can be used as a coffee substitute. Dried and ground, the seeds can be cooked into porridge.However, the seeds are rich in saponins. Though poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body so regularly pass through without harm. Nevertheless, the seeds need to be leached of toxins before they are consumed. This is done by slow roasting the nuts, cutting them into thin slices, putting them into a bag, and then rinsing them for 2-5 days. To create a soap alternative, the seed slices can be infused in hot water, which can then be used for washing.