(Aesculus parviflora)

Shrub
Ae macrostachya. Pavia macrostachya
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Aesculus parviflora
Hippocastanaceae

Saponins contained in the seed are used a soap substitute[169]. The saponins can be easily obtained by chopping the seed into small pieces and infusing them in hot water. This water can then be used for washing the body, clothes etc. Its main drawback is a lingering odour of horse chestnuts[K].

Plants can be used as a tall ground cover for large areas of land[208]. They are slow to establish but eventually form large spreading clumps[208].

Wood – easily worked. Used for making water troughs, packing cases, tea boxes, ornamental articles etc[194].

  • Medicinal Use

    Antiperiodic, antirheumatic[194]. Used in the treatment of colic, piles, constipation and whooping cough[194].

  • Edible Use

    Seed – cooked[2, 22, 105, 177]. It can be dried and ground into a powder and used as a gruel. The seed is quite large and easily harvested, though it is rarely produced in Britain[11]. Unfortunately, it is rich in bitter-tasting saponins and these need to be leached out before the seed can be eaten. See notes on toxicity above.

    The following notes apply to A. californica, but are probably also relevant here:-

    The seed needs to be leached of toxins before it becomes safe to eat – the Indians would do this by slow-roasting the nuts (which would have rendered the saponins harmless) and then cutting them into thin slices, putting them into a cloth bag and rinsing them in a stream for 2 – 5 days[213]. Most of the minerals etc would also have been leached out by this treatment[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The seed is rich in saponins[169]. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching the seed or flour in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown outdoors or in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[11, 80]. The seed germinates almost immediately and must be given protection from severe weather[130]. The seed has a very limited viability and must not be allowed to dry out. Stored seed should be soaked for 24 hours prior to sowing and even after this may still not be viable[80, 113]. It is best to sow the seed with its ‘scar’ downwards[130]. If sowing the seed in a cold frame, pot up the seedlings in early spring and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Root cuttings 5 – 7 cm long in December. Store the roots upside down in sand and pot them up in March/April[78]. Grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall and then plant them out into their permanent positions, preferably in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Division of suckers in the dormant season[200]. The suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.
Prefers a deep loamy well-drained soil but is not too fussy[1, 11]. Succeeds in most situations in sun or shade[126, 200]. Plants are very shade tolerant[200]. A very ornamental plant[1, 11], it is hardy to about -20¡c[184] though it is slow to establish[208]. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. The flowers have a delicate honey perfume[245]. This species does best on the western side of Britain according to one report[126] whilst another says that it is best in a continental climate, which would suggest that it was best grown in the eastern half of the country[200]. Trees rarely fruit in Britain except after a long hot, dry summer[11, 130]. Spreads freely by suckers[182]. Grows well on a lawn[11]. Most members of this genus transplant easily, even when fairly large[11].
Southern N. America – Georgia and Alabama to Florida.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.