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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - July 06, 2008

From: Uvalde, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification possibly red buckeye
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I encountered a shrub-like plant in the Edwards Plateu noth of Bracketville, and could use your help with identification. It's most distinguishing charactaristics are the seed pod, which has three chambers, each containing a single round black seed aprox. .8mm (small marble if you prefer). The seed resembles that of a mountain laurel in that it has a very hard exterior. The leaves were either central or deeply lobed, and of an odd number, usually five.

ANSWER:

This sounds like Aesculus pavia (red buckeye) or, possibly, Aesculus glabra var. arguta (Ohio buckeye). Both are members of the Family Hippocastanaceae (Horse-Chestnut Family). Here is another set of photos for A. pavia and another set for A. glabra var. arguta. The distribution in Texas is very similar for the two species.

Here are some of the differences between the two from Shinners' & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas, p. 738:

A. pavia has "Leaflets 5(-7)...leaflets to 17 cm long and 7 cm wide...fruits smooth...

A. glabra var. arguta (syn.=Aesculus arguta) has "Leaflets 7-11...leaflets to 12 cm long and 4 cm wide ...fruits spiny or rarely smooth...

Additionally, A. pavia generally has red flowers, but one variety, Aesculus pavia var. flavescens (red buckeye), has yellow flowers. A. glabra var. arguta has yellow or greenish flowers.

Please note that the raw seeds and early sprouts and leaves of all Aesculus species are poisonous.


Aesculus pavia

Aesculus pavia

Aesculus pavia

Aesculus pavia

Aesculus glabra var. arguta

Aesculus glabra var. arguta

Aesculus glabra var. arguta

Aesculus glabra var. arguta

 

 

 

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Bibliography

Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Texas (2003) Turner, B. L.; H. Nichols; G. Denny; O. Doron

Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F. Mahler; L. H. Shinners

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