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Vick, Albert F. W.
Aesculus californica (Spach) Nutt.
USDA Symbol: AECA
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
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.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Pinkish-white blooms.
DistributionUSA: CA Native Distribution:
Coast Ranges & Sierra Nevada to Los Angeles & Kern Cos. Native Habitat:
Dry canyons, gullies & wooded slopes
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:
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Fall-sown seeds germinate easily without pretreatment.
Seed Collection: Seeds dry and shrivel quickly.
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
- Santa Barbara, CANative Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
Record Last Modified: 2008-10-18
Research By: TWC Staff