Horsechestnut

(Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horsechestnut tree, which is poisonous to horses.

Plant Description

The horsechestnut is a a fairly large tree, usually growing 50-75 feet tall, but capable of reaching heights over 100 feet. It is tolerant of many soil types, as long as it has adequate moisture, though it grows better in locations that are not windy. It tends to have weak limbs, causing it to easily break branches under heavy ice or snow loads.

Geographic Locations

This tree is found primarily in the eastern United States and Canada, though it can also be found along the western coast where it has been purposefully planted as a part of maintained landscapes.

Toxic Plant Components

This tree is poisonous when it is growing...the young sprouts, young leaves, and the seeds are the parts that are poisonous.

Toxicity Cause and Symptoms

Toxic symptoms will usually appear somewhere around 16 hours after a toxic dose has been consumed.

When a toxic dose of horsechestnut has been consumed, the first symptoms are usually muscle twitching and weakness. Other signs include gastrointestinal irritation and pain. In severe cases, muscle spasms can occur, and eventually coma.

Cure and Treatment

If the disease progresses to a coma, there is usually no recovery. However, in most cases, the disease is self-limiting, as the horse usually reduces consumption of the plant when clinical signs appear.

Treatment usually includes giving a laxative to help remove remaining parts of the plant from the digestive tract. Sometimes IV fluids may be helpful, depending on the state of the horse.


More pictures:

Horsechestnut bud, which is poisonous to horses.
Horsechestnut flowers, which are poisonous to horses.
Horsechestnut tree, which is poisonous to horses.

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