Flora of Scotts Creek Watershed
Aesculus californica - California Buckeye
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Family Name: Hippocastanaceae
Common Name: California Buckeye
Origin: Native to California
Habitat: Found in riparian zones, canyons, or on dry hot slopes below 1700 m.
Life Form and Duration: Perennial Large shrub or tree, 3.5-12 m tall.
Comments on overall growth: Form is variable. Trunks are short with numerous ascending branches. On exposed slopes the branches grow close to the ground and no main trunk is formed, however in more favorable locations a small tree can grow with a rounded crown.
Bark and Stem Description: Smooth and grayish white.
Foliage Type: Deciduous
Foliage Description: Leaves opposite, palmately compound with 5-7 leaflets. Leaflets are oblong-lanceolate shaped, 5-15 cm long, with finely serrated margins. Leaves turn yellow and drop while fruits are on the tree, around June.
Infloresence Description: Inflorescence a compact, erect panicle, 10-20 cm long, forms a showy cluster.
Flower Description: Petals white - light rose. Sepals united, 7-8 mm long, petals 13-15 mm long, stamens 5-8 with orange anthers.
Flowering Season: May-June
Fruit Description: Pear shaped, smooth, 4-5 cm long, hanging from inflorescence tip. Usually 1 seed per leathery capsule, glossy brown, 2-5 cm diameter.
Edibility: All parts of the plant are Toxic to humans, wildlife, and livestock.
Plant Use: "Native Americans used the ground seed as a fish poison to stun the fish so that they would float to the surface and could be collected. They also were able to eat the seeds after they had been roasted, mashed, and soaked to leach away the toxins."
Common Associates: Quercus agrifolia, Mimulus aurantiacus, Artemisia californica, Toxicodendron diversilobum
Other Comments: "May live to 200 years old. The Buckeye located at the Swanton Pacific Railroad Round House, near the Red House, is registered with the California Registry of Big Trees and has a diameter of 176 inches and height of 46 feet."