Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

Common name: Ohio Buckeye, Horse Chestnut, Buckeye, American Buckeye, Fetid Buckeye, Stinking Buckeye, White buckeye, Texas Buckeye (var. Arguta)

Scientific name: Aesculus glabra
Family name: Horsechestnut Family (Hippocastanaceae)
Attracts: Squirrels are known to eat the raw seeds. Hummingbirds sip the nectar.
Host plant to: Saddled Prominent Moth – (Heterocampa guttivitta) and Filament Bearer Moth (Nematocampa resistaria)

Native range: Primarily a species of the east-central US. Var. glabra grows from western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and southern Michigan west to Illinois and south to Tennessee, Alabama, and rarely in Georgia, Mississippi, and states peripheral to the main northern range. Var. arguta (if recognized) is native to upland forests of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. Ohio buckeye is planted in various localities in the eastern US, including localities north and east of its main range.

Habitat: Ohio buckeye occurs in mixed hardwood forests of bottom lands along river and stream banks and in rich, moist soils of ravines and other steep to gentle slopes, less commonly on drier sites mixed in oak-hickory stands, on limestone slopes in the southwestern portion of the range. It is often found in beech-sugar maple woods.

Height: 49 feet (15 m) tall rarely to 147 feet (45m)
Light needed: shade tolerant
Hardiness zones: to zone 3
Bloom period: Ohio buckeye is one of the first trees to leaf out in spring. Flowering: March-May, after the leaves appear; fruiting: September-October.
Bloom color: creamy to greenish-yellow

Growing Tips: Seeds of Ohio buckeye ordinarily germinate in the spring after wintering on the ground. Seedlings can grow under some shade, but the species seems to develop best as isolated individuals in openings along stream banks and on other moist sites. Young trees show moderate growth rates and may begin producing fruit at 8 years. Most trees live 80-100 years.

Ohio buckeye can be propagated by seed (stratify 60-120 days at 33-41; seeds must be kept moist to avoid loss of viability.

Description: Small native trees, less than 15 m tall (rarely to 45 m). The tree is an attractive ornamental, best in open, natural settings or parks because of its broad crown. It also is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental shrub.

Warning: Ohio buckeye is highly toxic when taken internally.
Poisonous Plant: All parts of the plant (leaves, bark, fruit) are highly toxic if ingested – because of the glycoside aesculin, the saponin aescin, and possibly alkaloids. Symptoms are muscle weakness and paralysis, dilated pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, paralysis, and stupor. Many landowners have eradicated it to prevent livestock poisoning. Native Americans ground buckeye to use as a powder on ponds to stun fish.

Resource: Plant Fact Sheet/Guide Coordination Page

Photo credit: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook. USDA NRCS ND State Soil Conservation Committee; NDSU Extension and Western Area Power Administration, Bismarck.

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