Vick, Albert F. W.
Aesculus californica (Spach) Nutt.
Hippocastanaceae (Horse-Chestnut Family)
California buckeye is a broad, round, symetrically branching shrub,
10-20 ft. tall, with silvery-gray bark
and lustrous, dark-green, palmately compound
foliage with 4-7 leaflets. The shrubís primarily white flowers are fragrant and occur in 4-8 in. panicles. Their orange stamens
extend beyond the petals, providing a feathery texture. The pendent, pear-shaped seed capsule
is 2-3 in. long. The fall leaves of this deciduous shrub
are colorful. Thicket-forming shrub.
Image Gallery: 4 photo(s) available
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Complexity: Palmate Leaf Shape: Lanceolate Leaf Venation: Pinnate Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous Leaf Margin: Dentate Inflorescence: Panicle Size Notes:
Height 15-40 feet, spread 30-60 feet. Leaf:
Flower about 1/2 inch across.
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long. Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Pinkish-white blooms.
CA Native Distribution:
Through CA Coast Ranges & Sierra Nevada to Los Angeles & Kern Cos. Native Habitat:
Dry canyons, gullies & wooded slopes USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry CaCO3 Tolerance:
Low Drought Tolerance:
Medium Soil Description:
Poor, dry soils. Conditions Comments:
California buckeye drops its leaves in July or August, but if given ample moisture it will hold them into fall. The shrub
does not respond well to humidity and high night temperatures.
The only native
buckeye in the West, this species is sometimes grown as an ornamental. Use Wildlife:
Chipmunks and squirrels consume the seeds, but bees are poisoned by the nectar
and pollen. Use Food:
California Indians made flour from the poisonous seeds after leaching out the toxic element with boiling water. Use Other:
Ground, untreated seeds were thrown into pools of water to stupefy fish, which then rose to the surface and were easily caught. Wood used by indigenous Californians to make fire drills and hearths. Warning:
Seeds are poisonous to humans if eaten. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil. Conspicuous Flowers:
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for: