The horse chestnut tree is related to the Buckeyes (Aesculus), a huge deciduous tree species. The Ohio buckeye, California buckeye, and yellow buckeye are three common varieties of buckeyes. The large spherical inedible nut-like seeds, green palmately compound leaves, and creamy-yellow or crimson flower clusters are all characteristics of buckeye trees.
For medium to huge backyards, buckeyes are wonderful decorative trees. The leafy green foliage of the tall trees provides plenty of shade. Buckeyes are trees with a lot of seasonal appeal because of their conical flower panicles and vibrant orange autumn colors.
The most frequent kinds of buckeyes are described in this article. Pictures of buckeye trees and descriptions of the tree’s leaves and flowers will help you identify the most widespread species. You’ll learn how to preserve these native trees at the end of the article.
What are Buckeyes?
Buckeye is a kind of decorative tree in the genus Aesculus and the family Sapindaceae that is commonly seen in parks and open spaces. Buckeye trees come in four distinct varieties. The Ohio buckeye tree, also known as Aesculus glabra, is the most popular kind of buckeye. In North America, buckeyes are a common tree.
The height of a Buckeye tree may range from 12 to 40 feet (3.5 to 12 meters). In the Midwest, you may find buckeyes growing in both deciduous woodland and grasslands. In states along the East Coast and the Southern states, they are also popular trees in parks and open spaces. From New York to Kentucky and down to Texas, Ohio buckeyes may be found.
The tree fruit, a spherical chestnut-like seed that resembles the eye of a buck, is how the Buckeyes get their name. The Ohio buckeye is the state tree, as the common name implies. People from Ohio or Ohio State University graduates might be referred to as “buckeyes.” Buckeyes are a term for candy that resembles buckeye seeds.
About the Buckeye Nut (Buckeye Seed)
Buckeye fruit is a rounded, oval, lustrous brown nutlike seed surrounded by a cream-colored circle. It is poisonous to humans and animals. The chestnut-like round seeds are roughly 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. Humans and animals should not eat the nuts of the buckeye tree because they are harmful. The decorative value of buckeye fruits is all that matters.
The seeds of the Buckeye tree are considered lucky. Carrying a buckeye seed in your pocket is said to bring you good luck, according to folklore in Ohio. To ensure good luck or for an auspicious outcome, keep the lucky buckeye in your pocket and rub it between your fingers. Ohio is known as the Buckeye State due to the tree’s popularity.
Buckeye leaves are palmately compound leaves with five to seven leaflets that grow on the tree. Each leaflet is 3 to 12 inches (8 to 30 cm) long and has an elliptic or ovate shape. The finely serrated margins of the individual elliptical leaves. Tree leaves may range in color from light to dark green depending on the buckeye species.
Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) blossoms on the left. The yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava) is a flowering tree with conical clusters (panicles) of tiny flowers with creamy yellow to green petals, as seen in the right picture. Pink and red flowers bloom on other buckeye trees. Up to 6″ (15 cm) long panicles may contain up to 80 blossoms. Thousands of fragrant blooming panicles appear in full bloom during April and May on the Ohio buckeye or California buckeye.
How to Identify a Buckeye Tree
The seeds, leaves, and flowers of a buckeye tree, such as the Ohio buckeye, can be used to identify it. Buckeye nuts are the easiest way to differentiate between buckeye trees (Aesculus). A brown husk with spines surrounds the spherical fruits. Like a deer’s eye, the brown seeds have a white round patch and are lustrous.
Five or seven leaflets arranged in a semicircle at the end of a long stalk help to identify Buckeye leaves. The yellow buckeye typically has seven ovate-shaped leaves, and most Ohio buckeyes have five pointed-tipped leaves.
All Parts of The Buckeye Tree are Poisonous
Toxins may be found in the roots, stems, leaves, and bark of the Ohio buckeye. You should not eat any part of the Ohio buckeye or other buckeye species because of its toxicity. Inedible buckeye seeds may only be utilized in crafts. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), buckeye plant parts can cause severe gastrointestinal upset, muscle weakening, and paralysis if consumed.
Cats, dogs, and livestock should not eat buckeye seeds, leaves, or bark. Similar symptoms are caused by consuming the poisonous seeds, including vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even coma in humans. Squirrels are one of the few animals that can eat raw buckeye nuts, which is interesting.
What is the Difference Between Buckeyes and Horse Chestnuts?
The height, amount of seeds, and leaf size are the three primary distinctions between buckeyes and horse chestnuts. The same tree genus, Aesculus, includes both horse chestnuts and buckeyes. Buckeye trees are native to the United States, whereas horse chestnuts are from Europe. The difference between buckeyes and horse chestnuts can be determined in a variety of ways:
- Seeds—A brown, not green, husk surrounds mature buckeye seeds. Each buckeye pod usually contains only one seed, though horse chestnuts may contain up to four. Some buckeye types, on the other hand, include two or three nuts in their seed capsules.
- Leaves—Buckeye leaves have a more stretched form than horse chestnuts, which are usually narrower.
- Tree height—Buckeye trees, which grow to around 40 feet (12 meters) tall, are smaller than horse chestnut trees. Horse chestnuts may grow to be over 100 feet (30 meters) tall.
It’s critical to understand that the edible chestnut in the genus Castanea is not related to buckeyes or horse chestnuts. Buckeye nuts are rounded and smooth, but edible chestnuts have a pointed end with a tassel.
Types of Buckeye Trees (With Pictures)
Now, let’s explore the most common types of buckeye in depth.
Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
The Ohio buckeye tree has a rounded crown and thick, dark green leafy foliage. It is an attractive decorative flowering tree with leaves on the right. Five long, lanceolate leaves make up the pinnate compound leaves. The conical clusters of yellowish-green flowers that bloom in the spring may help you identify this tree.
Ohio buckeye grows to be 20 to 40 feet (6 to 12 meters) tall, with white flowers and red fruits. From Pennsylvania to Alabama, you may find this Aesculus species growing. The gray bark of the Ohio buckeye tree gets scaly as it matures, with a rough feel.
American buckeye and fetid buckeye are two other names for the Ohio buckeye bark. The stinking buckeye gets its name from the fact that the leaves can release a strong offensive odor when crushed in the fall. In late spring, the Ohio buckeye produces prickly round pods on its branches after it stops producing flowers.
A glossy mahogany brown buckeye seed can be found in each of these chestnut-like fruits. You may plant new Ohio buckeye trees with the seeds. You can also test your luck with an Ohio buckeye nut in your pocket. In large lawns or as shade trees in parks, Ohio buckeyes thrive best as attractive landscape trees.
Buckeye flowers: Cream-colored or greenish-yellow flowers bloom on Ohio buckeye bushes, which are conical clusters. These pyramid-shaped panicles grow on the ends of branches and are 4″ to 7″ (10 – 17 cm) long.
Buckeye leaves: Buckeye tree leaves are arranged in a similar manner to human fingers. The finely serrated edges of the five lanceolate leaves grow between 3 and 6 inches (7.5 and 15 cm). In the summer, the buckeye leaves are dark green, but in the fall, they become brilliant yellow or orange.
Texas Buckeye (Aesculus glabra var. arguta)
A variant of buckeye (Aesculus) that grows as a huge shrub or small tree, the Texas buckeye is a popular plant. This chestnut-like tree is a variety of the Ohio buckeye with similar qualities. The tree’s palmate leaves are made up of large glossy green lanceolate leaflets with serrated edges.
The tree blossoms in the spring, with flowering spike clusters growing upright on the ends of branches. The crown of this buckeye is round, with drooping branches. The Texas Buckeye tree grows between 6 and 20 feet (2 and 6 meters) high.
Buckeye leaves: The leaves of the Texas buckeye tree are seven to nine. The leaves are up to 5 inches (12 cm) long and glossy. The tree’s leaves change color in the autumn, from brilliant orange to rich crimson.
Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
Because of its vibrant red flowers, the red buckeye is one of the most beautiful decorative deciduous trees. The red buckeye has crimson spring blooms and an oval crown on a little landscape tree with crimson leaves. The compound leaves are formed by five lance-shaped red buckeye leaves.
Red buckeyes thrive in full sun and range from 12 to 15 feet (3.5 to 4.5 meters) tall. This buckeye variety is ideal for tiny parks and residential backyards due to its shorter growth period. This is a lovely shade tree for garden settings due to their thick foliage.
The red blooms of red buckeyes are the most striking feature. In the spring, these crimson panicles grow up to 10″ (25 cm) tall and reach a length of up to 10″ (25 cm). The dark green, leafy foliage contrasts beautifully with the triangular red flower clusters. The soft brown capsules of red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) nuts. Each pod might contain one to three gleaming brown buckeye seeds.
The scarlet buckeye, firecracker buckeye, and wooly buckeye are all names for the red buckeye seed (Aesculus pavia). The Aesculus pavia ‘Variegata’ form is also available. Red buckeye tree leaves are palmately compound, with elongated pointing leaflets that form a pattern. Before the leaves fall in late September, they lack a distinct autumn color.
Dwarf Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia ‘Humilis’)
A dwarf variant of the red buckeye tree, the dwarf red buckeye (Aesculus pavia ‘Humilis’) blooms and leaves. Rather than being a tree, the dwarf red buckeye grows as a huge shrub. The dwarf kind has huge palmate leaves that range from light to dark green, much like the bigger red buckeye. In addition, tubular crimson flowers bloom in the spring.
A bushy shrub-like tree with a dwarf red buckeye appearance. If you want to cultivate a buckeye but don’t have enough area, this cultivar is ideal for your little yards.
Buckeye leaves: Five to seven leaflets hang from the end of long stems (petioles) in dwarf red buckeye shrub leaves. A pointed tip and a serrated border characterize the ovate or lanceolate leaves.
Yellow Buckeye (Aesculus flava)
Yellow buckeye is a beautiful tree with spectacular, yellow flowers and brilliant autumn hues. It is endemic to Ohio. The rounded crown of this buckeye is composed of drooping ovate leaves that are stretched from the stalks. The tree produces tubular yellow to yellow-greenish clusters of flowers in the spring.
Yellow buckeye trees grow to be around 50 to 75 feet (15–22 meters) tall and have a spread of around 50 feet (15 meters). In places ranging from Pennsylvania to Alabama and Georgia, you may find yellow buckeyes. Aesculus flava fruits contain one or two seeds and are globular in shape. Smooth, leathery brown husks protect the unique buckeye seeds.
Buckeye leaves: The five ovate-oblong leaves of yellow buckeye are palmate compound. The serrated margins of each leaflet range from 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm) in length. The tree’s beauty is enhanced by the leaflets hanging from its long petioles. In the autumn, the buckeye leaves acquire an rich orange color.
Painted Buckeye (Aesculus sylvatica)
A small deciduous ornamental tree with attractive colorful flowers and lovely green leaves, the painted buckeye tree is also known as Georgia buckeye. In early spring, the leaves take on a variety of red tones. Different hues of yellows, pinks, or reds may be seen in painted buckeye blossoms. Each leathery spherical capsule contains one to three buckeye seeds, which are dark brown in color.
The Georgia buckeye grows to be between 6 and 15 feet (1.8 and 4.5 meters) tall with a similar spread. The flower clusters look like an upturned paintbrush, which is why the common name for this species is painted buckeye. In the spring, painted buckeye trees emerge with foliage and in the early autumn, they drop them.
Buckeye leaves are smaller than the other buckeye species, and they have painted buckeye flowers. The five green leaves hang from the end of short stems and grow between 4″ and 6″ (10 – 15 cm) long. The leaves turn yellow to orange in the fall.
California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)
A little tree with a somewhat rounded, flattened crown, thick leafy foliage, and fragrant white flower clusters, the California buckeye is a miniature tree. The leaves of this buckeye plant are made up of five to seven leaflets and are attractive. The tree has a lovely winter appearance due to its many stems and pale silver California buckeyes bark. Between 15 and 30 feet (4.5 and 9 meters) tall, California buckeyes bloom
California buckeyes have a particularly spectacular floral display that is an standout feature. The panicle has a fuzzy appearance because of the huge 12-inch (30-cm) flower clusters with spidery stamens. The buckeye resembles a vast, spreading candelabra because of its erect creamy-white blossoms growing on the rounded canopy.
The color of the buckeye nuts on Aesculus californica is orangey-brown, not dark shiny mahogany like most buckeye seeds.
California buckeye tree leaves have five thin lanceolate leaflets and are glossy, dark green palmate leaves. The leaflets have serrated borders, as do other Aesculus species. These buckeyes’ autumn foliage is pink to orangey-red in color.
Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
The only genuine buckeye shrub is the bottlebrush buckeye. The bushy plant bears numerous stems packed with thick leaves that are palmate in shape. Bottlebrush buckeye blooms in clusters of tiny tubular flowers with a hairy look and long white cylindrical flower panicles. The bottlebrush buckeye produces a spectacular floral display when it is in bloom in the spring and early summer.
Bottlebrush buckeyes grow to a width of 15 feet (4.5 meters) and have bottlebrush flowers and leaves. The yellowish husk encloses the inedible buckeye nuts, which are pear-shaped.
Bottlebrush buckeye nuts
Buckeye leaves: Green palmate leaves with five to seven stumpy lance-shaped leaflets, bottlebrush buckeye shrub leaves are green. In the autumn, the dull, dark green leaves develop a bright yellow color.
If you live in USDA zones 5 through 9, growing buckeye trees is simple. It’s important to keep the soil moist when growing buckeyes, whether in full sun or partial shade. Plant it in a spot with excellent drainage in your yard. Planting buckeyes in the spring or fall is the optimum time. It’s critical, however, to choose the right buckeye type since they may grow into huge shade trees.
Water mature trees only enough to keep the ground moist when caring for an Ohio buckeye or other buckeye variety. Lock in moisture with mulch around the trunk and root base. To avoid root rot, leave 3″ (7.5 cm) from the trunk every time you water. In the spring, prune the tree’s thin buckeye branches. Since they are messy trees with leaf drop and fallen seeds, buckeyes are not common in residential gardens.