Aesculus californica (California Buckeye)





California Buckeye flowers

California Buckeye flowers

Aesculus californica (California Buckeye). Zones 6-10, Sunset 3-10, 14-24. Deciduous California and Oregon native shrub and small tree, vase or fan shaped up to 20 ft x 20 ft wide. Flowers are dense scented 6 in long spikes on a branch tips. Blooms in April – May. Big deep green leaves divided in 5 leaflets (very rare 7). Trunk is smooth and silvery in color. Part shade to sun. Needs regular supplemental water to look it best (in its’ native habitat grows close to water source). Adapted to wide variety of soil types (clay, serpentine), can sustain seasonal flooding. Tolerates drought once established, but will go deciduous very early (June -July) without supplemental water. Trim only dead and oddly shaped branches.
Uses – Great specimen tree for butterfly garden.
Caution: All parts of plant are poisonous especially pear shaped fruit containing nut

Plant profile summary:

Name Aesculus californica (California Buckeye)
Zone/ Sunset Zone Zones 6-10, Sunset 3-10, 14-24
Type: Shrub/tree
Size/shape: Up to 20 ft x 20 ft wide (some specimens can be twice as big), vase or fan shaped, usually multi-trunked
Life Span: Long lived – up to 300 years
Foliage/ Flower/ Fruits Type/ Color Deciduous, dark green leaves 7-9 in wide divided in 5 leaflets (rarely 7). Creamy white striking 6-7 in long spikes held upright at the tip of the branches cover this California native in May-June. Flowers have sweet creamy-like fragrance and attract native bees and butterflies; but pollen and nectar are poisonous to honeybees. Pear shaped fruit contains shiny brown nut that has most neurotoxin poison (neurotoxic glycoside aesculin) of all part of the plant. Young shoots and leaves contain the list of it, which is explained why deer and livestock graze on them in late winter early spring.
Sun/ wind Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Water requirements: Drought tolerant once established but to hold leaves to fall need regular summer water in hot inland Bay Area.
Soil requirements: Wide range of moist soil: alkaline to neutral/slightly acidic, clay, serpentine. Can sustain seasonal flooding
Use: Great focal point in your spring garden, loved by butterflies and native bees.
Attractions – special features: Architectural branches and trunk, tropical look, spectacular blooming show, long lived
Pests / Diseases: N/A
Trimming Prune only dead and oddly shaped branches if needed
Caution: All parts of plant are poisonous especially pear shaped
fruit containing nut



One Response to “Aesculus californica (California Buckeye)”

  1. John Wilson Says:

    Seriously creative and fun!!!!! Awesome job!

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