Marcus, Joseph A.
Ungnadia speciosa Endl.
Sapindaceae (Soapberry Family)
Mexican-buckeye, an 8-12 ft., deciduous tree,
can reach 30 ft. in height. It is often multi-trunked with with light gray to brown bark,
smooth on young branches, becoming fissured with age. Leaves up to 12 inches long, with a central axis supporting 2 to 6 paired leaflets and a terminal one; leaflets up to 5 inches long, ovate
to narrower with an elongate tip, rounded base, and serrate
foliage turns golden yellow in fall. Clusters of bright-pink, fragrant flowers appear before or with the leaves from the axils of the previous season. Fruit
distinctive, a light reddish brown when ripe, 3 lobed capsule
containing 1 to 3 dark brown to black, shiny seeds 1/2 inch in diameter, the walls of the capsule
often persisting through the winter, seeds poisonous.
From a distance the plants in full flower resemble redbuds or peaches. The sweetish but poisonous seeds are sometimes used by children as marbles. Livestock seldom browse the toxic foliage, but bees produce fragrant honey from the flowers. Although not a true buckeye, it is so called because of the similar large capsules and seeds. This distinct plant, alone in its genus,
commemorates Baron Ferdinand von Ungnad, Austrian ambassador at Constantinople, who introduced the Horsechestnut into western Europe in 1576.
Image Gallery: 50 photo(s) available
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Pink
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
NM , TX Native Distribution:
TX & s. NM to n.e. Mex. Native Habitat:
Rocky canyons & ridges. Common in rocky areas in canyons and on slopes and ridges in South, Central, and West Texas, east to Dallas county. USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry Cold Tolerant:
Rocky soils. Rocky, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type
Limestone-based Conditions Comments:
Mexican buckeye produces an opulent show when it blooms. The foliage turns a clear yellow in the fall. Foliage, flowers and dense branching makes this species an outstanding small specimen tree
or tall background shrub. Rapid-growing, drought-resistant, resistant to cotton root rot. Prune to encourage a single trunk if desired. Growth characteristics of this tree
vary greatly with site. It has mildly poisonous seedpods.
Showy, Aromatic, Accent shrub,
Fall conspicuous, Understory tree,
Attractive, Blooms ornamental Use Wildlife:
Nectar-bees, Nectar-butterflies, Nectar-moths, Seeds-granivorous birds, Seeds-Small mammals. Conspicuous Flowers:
Butterflies Larval Host:
Henrys Elfin butterfly Nectar Source:
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for: