|Photograph © Hans van den Bos|
Xanthoceras sorbifolium (yellowhorn, shiny leaf yellowhorn, goldenhorn, Chinese flowering chestnut) is a woody perennial in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae, and the only species in the genus Xanthoceras. It is native to northern China in the provinces of Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Liaoning, Nei Monggol, Ningxia, Shaanxi, and Shandong. It is also cultivated in Russia, having been imported there since the 19th Century.
|Photograph © Kiewscience - Plants of the world online|
It is a large shrub or small tree growing to 8 m tall. The leaves are arranged alternately, 12–30 cm long, and are pinnate, with 9–17 leaflets, the leaflets 3–6 cm long, with a sharly serrated margin. The flowers are 2–3 cm diameter, with five white petals, and are produced in erect panicles 10–20 cm long in mid spring. The fruit is an oval leathery capsule 5–6 cm diameter, which splits into three sections at maturity to release the 6–18 seeds; the seeds are black, 1.5 cm diameter, resembling a small horse chestnut seed.
The genus (which translates as "yellow horn") is considered to be the most basal member of the family. The specific epithet refers to the leaves, similar to those of rowans (Sorbus). It was originally spelled as sorbifolia, but this is a grammatical error that was corrected to sorbifolium under the ICBN.
X. sorbifolium has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
The leaves, flowers, and seeds of yellowhorn are all edible.