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Aesculus flava (formerly A. octandra)
Yellow Buckeye

DescriptionThis eastern North American native is a good, large tree best in spots where lovely shape can be appreciated. It is quite showy in bloom, attracting pollinators. The rich dark green leaves rarely suffer from leaf scorch and end their growing season with lovely shades of pumpkin, salmon pink or red. The range of soil and moisture tolerances combined with beautiful bloom make this a tree that should be considered for the urban space.
UsageBuffer strip, highway, shade tree specimen.
OriginMid-eastern USA
Hardiness zone4,5
Size15m
Form/textureUpright oval.
Coarse texture.
Growth rateModerate
LeafOpposite, palmately compound, 5 leaflets each to 15 cm long, finely serrate; fall colour with orange pink and red tones.
FlowerYellow with green tinge; erect, pyramidal, terminal panicle to 15 cm long; individuals trumpet shaped to 13 mm long; stamens usually shorter than petals.
"The big, branched clusters of bloom which appear in late spring, when the leaves are half grown, light up the whole tree with their yellow petals" (Peattie).
"A tree in full flower is wonderful to behold" (Gilman).
FruitHusk without prickles unlike other tree Aesculus.
Exposure/cultureFull sun to partial shade.
Moderate salt tolerance (Beckerman et al, Gilman).
Grows in all soils, slightly alkaline to acidic, poorly drained to well drained.
Moderately wet to moderately dry soil moisture tolerance.
Has a taproot, so some authors consider it "hard to transplant" (Flint); "moderately difficult" (Hightshoe).
CommentsThe name buckeye was thus derived: "Country folk have named this tree for its big shiny brown seeds which, with the large pale scar upon it, has looked to them like the eye of a deer" (Peattie). Unlike horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), this tree is not susceptible to leaf scorch/blotch and has great fall colour. These two assets alone make it a worthy landscape tree, not to mention its tolerance to difficult soils.
A bottomland species in northern part of range.
It does have fruit and this character must be considered in situations where they could be used as projectiles. Where squirrels are plentiful, the fruit seem to disappear quickly. Yellow buckeye is distinguished from horsechestnut by its 5 rather than 7 leaflets, its fine fall colour, its smaller, less eye-catching flowers and its smooth husked fruit.



Reference:
Beckerman, J. and B.R. Lerner. 2009. Salt Damage in Landscape Plants. Purdue Extension Publication ID-412-W. Purdue University. West LaFayette, IN.
Flint, H. 1982. Landscape Plants for Eastern North America. 2nd Ed. John Wiley & Sons. New York, N.Y. 864pp.
Gilman, E.F. 1997. Trees for Urban and Suburban Landscapes. Delmar Publishers. Albany, N.Y. 662 pp.
Hightshoe, G. and h. Groe. 1998. North American Plantfile. McGraw-Hill. New York. 576pp.
Peattie, D.C. 1964. A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America. 2nd ed. Bonanza Books. New York, NY. 606pp.


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