Natural Highlights: Red Buckeye


The red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) is a beautiful small deciduous tree with red tubular flowers sought by hummingbirds as they migrate north in the spring. The large shiny seeds are commonly called buckeyes and they are avoided by most wildlife because they are toxic.  The large, palmately compound leaves are somewhat tropical looking, with five leaflets at the end of each stem. Red buckeye trees are always a pleasure to encounter in the forest, and make a nice addition to the home landscape as well.

The following information is from the Missouri Botanic Garden:

Aesculus pavia, commonly called red buckeye, is a deciduous clump-forming shrub or small tree with an irregular rounded crown. It typically grows 10-20’ tall. Showy, erect, 4-10” long panicles of red to orange-red, narrow-tubular flowers appear in spring. Palmately compound, shiny, dark green leaves are attractive in spring and early summer, but usually begin to decline by August. Smooth, light brown, globular (1-2” diameter) seed capsules encase 1-3 shiny seeds called buckeyes that ripen in the fall. Seeds are poisonous and are avoided by most wildlife. Fall foliage color is unremarkable. Red buckeye is native to the southeast where it typically occurs in moist soils, along streambanks, and near wetlands. Flowers are attractive to ruby-throated hummingbirds and bloom at about the same time that the hummingbirds return to the area in spring migration.

Posted by Cathy Justis at 9:43 PM