Common Name(s): Horse Chestnut
Scientific Name: Aesculus hippocastanum
Distribution: Eastern Europe
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 31 lbs/ft3 (500 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .39, .50
Janka Hardness: 820 lbf (3,630 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 9,790 lbf/in2 (67.5 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,036,000 lbf/in2 (7.15 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 5,460 lbf/in2 (37.7 MPa)
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is creamy white or yellowish brown, not clearly demarcated from the white sapwood.
Grain/Texture: Grain tends to be wavy or interlocked. Horse Chestnut has a fine, even texture.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; very small pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; growth rings faintly distinct due to marginal parenchyma; rays barely visible even with 10x lens; parenchyma banded.
Rot Resistance: Horse Chestnut has poor decay resistance, and is rated as non-durable to perishable.
Workability: Horse Chestnut is generally easy to work, but it’s low density and interlocked grain can lead to fuzzy surfaces, similar to Aspen or Cottonwood. Glues and finishes well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Horse Chestnut. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Not regularly available in the United States, availability is likely to be limited to its natural range in Europe, where prices should be moderate.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Veneer, furniture, plywood, interior trim, and turned objects.
Comments: So named because nuts from the tree are toxic to horses. And despite having “chestnut” in its common name, it’s not closely related to the wood that has traditionally been referred to as Chestnut in the Castanea genus. Horse Chestnut is actually related to its American counterpart in the Aesculus genus, Buckeye.
Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the wood sample and turned photo of this wood species.