This tree, which rises to the height of eighty feet, was first known to Europe at Constantinople about the beginning of the sixteenth century, and is only cultivated here as an. ornamental tree. It is of very rapid growth in soils that suit it. The fruit or nuts, ground and mixed with meal, are used as a cure for broken-winded horses. Its leaves are large, dark green, and very beautiful, and make quite a handsome, showy appearance in contrast to its beautiful flowers, which, peeping out in clusters from among the dark-green, graceful foliage, make it one of our most beautiful trees. The fruit ripens about the middle of September, and is enclosed in a thick, prickly husk. The following is a list of the horse-chestnuts:
Double-flowered Horse-chestnut; an uncommon variety. Ohio Horse-chestnut, or Foetid Buckeye. Smooth-leaved Horse-chestnut. Variegated-leaved Horse-chestnut. Scarlet-flowered Horse-chestnut. Fern-leaved Horse-chestnut. Pale-flowered Horse-chestnut. Silver-leaved Horse-chestnut.
The native country of the horse-chestnut is claimed by some as northern Asia, and by others as India. It was first introduced into this country about the middle of the seventeenth century; the first tree is said to be still standing on the estate of Mr. Lemuel "Wells, of Yon-kers, New York.
The horse-chestnut requires a deep, free soil, and will only flower in a fully sheltered place.
Its foliage is seldom or never eaten by the larva? of insects; its wood is white and very soft, and will only weigh about thirty-eight or forty pounds to the cubic foot; in Europe the greater portion of the sabots are made from it. Du Hamel and many other eminent authorities recommend its use in the manufacture of water-pipes.
The bark yields a yellow dye, and is very bitter to the taste. The nuts are used in Ireland to whiten linen; they are first rasped into the water and allowed to macerate for some time, and when applied to the linen the saponaceous matter exudes from the raspings and bleaches it. The potash of the horse-chestnuts is among the finest and best in use.
To the painter, the magnificence of its stature and the richness of its drapery, especially when clothed in the beauty of its broad, palmated leaves and embroidered with its profusion of silvery flowers, more than atone for exceeding regularity of form, terminating, as it always does if left to nature, in an exact parabola; its massive and luxuriant beauty contrasts well with trees of a more airy character, and thus produces that breadth of light and shade so essential to landscape scenery.