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Marcus, Joseph A.
Aesculus pavia var. pavia L.
Scarlet buckeye, Red buckeye, Southern buckeye, Firecracker plant
USDA Symbol: aepap
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Native from North Carolina south to northern Florida, north to southern Illinois, and west to the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau in central Texas, Aesculus pavia var. pavia is an attractive spring-flowering shrub or small tree, blooming in some years as early as February, with showy red flowers. Frequent on limestone ledges above streams and also found on a variety of well-drained, usually acidic woodland soils in the Southeast. On the central Edwards Plateau of central Texas, may show hybridization with the yellow-flowered var. flavescens (Sarg.) Correll, the common form in the western part of the Edwards Plateau. Large leaves with leaflets radiating from the tip of a long petiole. Bark on young branches smooth, gray to brown, roughened on older ones. Leaf blade palmately divided into 5 leaflets; petiole up to 6 inches long and leaflets of equal length, tapering more gradually to the base than to the elongate tip, and with serrate margins. Flowers tubular, 1 to 1.5 inches long, on an upright axis as much as 8 inches tall. Fruit a rounded capsule 2 inches in diameter, brown, with a slightly roughened surface, persisting after the leaves have fallen; seeds 1 to 3, shiny.
This is the red-flowered variety of species Aesculus pavia, found throughout the species range except the westernmost edge of the Edwards Plateau in central Texas, where variety flavescens takes its place. It ranges in height from 10 to 40 feet, with heights diminishing the farther west you go from the Mississippi Valley. Long popular for its brilliant, hummingbird-attracting spring flowers and rich green foliage, it is found in nature most often as a plant of woodland edges, where it can get morning sun and afternoon shade. In a planned landscape, it should be placed where it wont be prominent after July, as it loses its leaves by the end of summer.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub
, Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Complexity: Palmate Leaf Shape: Elliptic Leaf Venation: Pinnate Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
, Tomentose Leaf Margin: Crenate
, Serrate Leaf Apex: Acuminate Breeding System:
, Monoecious Inflorescence: Panicle Size Notes:
10-40 ft tall. In central Texas, at the western edge of its range, it is commonly no more than 5-15 ft. Leaf:
Green to Blue-green, turning yellow before leaf drop Flower:
Flowers in 6 inch panicles with individual flowers 1 to 1.5 inches long. Topmost petals the longest. Stamens
rarely exceed length of the longest petals
Brown 1-2 inches Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Color can be red to yellowish red even without hybridization.
AL , AR , FL , GA , IL , KY , LA , MO , MS , NC , OK , SC , TN , TX Native Distribution:
FL to e. TX, n. to NC, s. IL, & s.e. MO. In Texas, the western boundary for A. pavia
is a line roughly between McLennan and Bexar counties and north of southern Blanco county. Native Habitat:
Thickets, hillsides, slopes, shaded woods, and river banks in dappled shade USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(I)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Deep, moist, well-drained, usually acidic soils, though also found in calcareous areas. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based
Conditions Comments: Red buckeye has no serious pests, although anthracnose and leaf blotch habitually cause leaves to fall off by the end of the summer. Red buckeye will suffer leaf scorch in sunny, southwest exposures.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Valued for its red spring flowers
Use Wildlife: Flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Nuts eaten by squirrels.
Use Other: Seeds and young shoots crushed and set in fish ponds to stun fish for easy capture by indigenous people. Saponins in roots used as soap substitute and wood used to obtain a black dye.
Warning: Seeds and young shoots poisonous if ingested.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Deer Resistant: Moderate
Root Cuttings , Seeds Description:
Plant untreated seeds immediately in a well-drained medium. Dormant root cuttings of 3-4 inches sometimes successful. Seed Collection:
As soon as the leathery capsule
turns brown and begins to peel back from the firm, golden-brown seeds. Do not allow the seeds to dry out. Commercially Avail:
Soak-water during summer drought to prevent leaf loss.
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Hill Country Natives
- Leander, TX
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Record Modified: 2009-12-04
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG