Aesculus hippocastanum (seed)

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Aesculus hippocastanum L.   Hippocastanaceae  
Standardized common name (English): horse chestnut

Botanical Voucher Specimen

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Aesculus hippocastanum MF32004BMX1 A1299.jpg
Source: Botanical Voucher Specimen Library, Alkemists Laboratories[1]

Aesculus hippocastanum Kew imageBarcode=K000914265 517072.jpg
Source: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.[2]

Organoleptic Characteristics

"...bitter, disagreeable taste..."

Source: United States Dispensatory (1918) [3]

Macroscopic Characteristics

The horsechestnut is a rather large tree, usually reaching 40 feet or more in height. The large leaves are composed of five to seven leaflets from 4 to 8 inches long, pointed, and broader at the top than at the base. In June it produces handsome flower clusters sometimes a foot in length, consisting of large white flowers spotted with yellow and red. The fruit is round and prickly and contains a large shining brown nut.

Source: American Medicinal Plants of Commercial Importance (1930) [4]

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Aesculus hippocastanum Tropicos 35153.jpg
Source: Missouri Botanical Garden. 05 Aug 2013[5]

PlantaPhile - 656.jpg
Source: PlantaPhile[6]

PlantaPhile - 1796.jpg
Source: PlantaPhile[7]

Microscopic Characteristics

Especially noticable [under the microscope] are the grotesque shapes [of horse-chestnut starch]. Quite often two or more grains are united to form irregularly shaped aggregates. Suppantschitsch rightly notes that the individuals of these aggregates are so closely consolidated that they can be distinguished only with the aid of the polariscope. Among the grains are numerous pear-shaped reniform and irregularly swollen forms. The large grains are mostly 20 to 30 microns long, but occasionally reach 40 microns. The small grains are often scarcely measurable. [The hilium] is distinct and situated at the broader end. A longitudinal cleft passing through the hilium is sometimes present. Rings are indistinct. Polarization crosses are distinct in the large grains. A play of colors is obtained with the selenite plate.

Source: Winton, A. (1916) Microscopy of vegetable foods, 2nd ed. [8]

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Aesculus hippocastanum L. -Hippocastanaceae--1.jpg
Large thin-walled parenchyma showing intercellular spaces of Aesculus hippocastanum seed viewed at 400x with Acidified Chloral Hydrate Solution.
Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories[9]

Aesculus hippocastanum L. -Hippocastanaceae--2.jpg
Starch granules showing well marked cleft of Aesculus hippocastanum seed viewed at 400x with Acidified Chloral Hydrate Solution.
Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories[10]

High Performance Thin Layer Chromatographic Identification

Camag logo.png
Horse Chestnut HPTLC ID - Anisaldehyde Reagent, White RT.

Horse Chestnut (seed) (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Lane Assignments Lanes, from left to right (Track, Volume, Sample):

  1. 10 μL Escin
  2. 10 μL Horse Chestnut whole 1
  3. 10 μL Horse Chestnut powder
  4. 12 μL Horse Chestnut whole 2 

Reference Sample(s) Reference: Dissolve 15 mg of escin in 3 mL of methanol. 

Stationary Phase Stationary phase, i.e. Silica gel 60, F254 

Mobile Phase 1-butanol, water, glacial acetic acid 50:40:10 (v/v/v) 

Sample Preparation Method Sample: Mix 1 g of powdered sample with 10 mL of ethanol-water (7:3), heat on a steam bath for 10 minutes, then centrifuge or filter the solutions and use the supernatants / filtrates as test solutions

Anisaldehyde Reagent Preparation: 1mL anisaldehyde reagent, 20mL acetic acid 99%, 170mL methanol, 10ml sulfuric acid 95%-97% 

Detection Method Anisaldehyde Reagent Use: Dip (time 0, speed 5), heat at 100°C for 4 min 

Other Notes Compare result under white RT with reference images in Image Comparison Viewer. The fingerprint of the test solution is similar to that of the corresponding botanical reference sample. Additional weak zones may be present.

A. hippocastanum Identification: Above the zone due to escin the chromatogram shows several narrow, brown to brownish-red zones that are less intense than the zone corresponding to escin.

Source: CAMAG HPTLC [11]

Supplementary Information


  1. Botanical Voucher Specimen Library, Alkemists Laboratories
  2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  3. United States Dispensatory (1918)
  4. American Medicinal Plants of Commercial Importance (1930)
  5. Missouri Botanical Garden. 05 Aug 2013
  6. PlantaPhile
  7. PlantaPhile
  8. Winton, A. (1916) Microscopy of vegetable foods, 2nd ed.
  9. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories
  10. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories
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