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Aesculus californicaCalifornia Buckeye
 
Aesculus californica at SF Botanical Garden. Photo by David Kruse-Pickler

Aesculus californica 'Canyon Pink'. Photo by David Kruse-Pickler

Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica Aesculus californica
 

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Buckeyes are one of the most distinctive members of the plant community in the California foothills. Their spreading crowns filled with fresh leaflets appear in early March, far earlier than those of other deciduous trees.

In May, long tapering creamy-white flower spikes stand erect on twigs looking like bottlebrush candelabras. The cultivar 'Canyon Pink' resembles the species in form but has light to medium pink flowers. It was a wild-collected seedling discovered in Monterey County.

By August, the foliage has dropped due to yearly summer drought. This serves to conserve whatever water remains in the trunk and roots. These forked gray trunks with bare branches are a breathtaking sight in fall and winter.

In autumn, the hard shiny buckeyes form. They, along with the rest of the plant, contain the toxin, aesculin. California Native Americans used a powder consisting of ground buckeye, putting it into streams. This toxic powder would temporarily stupefy the fish making them easier to catch. The hard wood of the tree was also used as a fire drill. Only in times of famine would they resort to eating buckeyes, carefully leaching out poisons before ingesting.

Horse chestnuts and buckeyes are in the same family. In Europe, buckeyes are called horse chestnuts, although they are not chestnuts and are poisonous.

We have a magnificent specimen of the California buckeye in the center of the California Native Garden. Our 'Canyon Pink' is in the west end of the collection on the northwest side of the reservoir.

Profile
Scientific Name Aesculus californica
Common Name California buckeye
Family Hippocastanaceae
Plant Type Flowering Tree
Environment Drought tolerant but can take some moderate summer watering.
Bloom May-June
Uses Tree to 40' so plenty of space is required
More Info The nectar and pollen is toxic to honeybees and no wildlife, except squirrels, have been known to eat eat the buckeye seeds

Some of the Native American names for A. californica include: pomo, nomlaki, yuki and coast miwok

A. californica on Jepson Flora
Location

Aesculus californica is located in the California Native Garden (Bed 34B and 40D).

Visiting Info >>
Map (Bed Numbers) >>

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IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Text by Kathy McNeil. Plant profile by Associate Curator David Kruse-Pickler. Photos by Joanne Taylor, David Kruse-Pickler, Mona Bourell and James Gaither.

 
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January

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

February

Magnolia laevifolia'Strybing Compact'

Magnolia laevifolia 'Strybing Compact'

March

Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica

April

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

May

Arbutus menziesii

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June

Romneya coulteri

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Cistus sp.

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Rosmarinus sp.

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Dahlia spp.

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October

   
Magnolia campbellii

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January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Magnolia x veitchii

Magnolia x veitchii

March

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

April

Aesculus californica

Aesculus californica

May

Vaccinium ovatum

Vaccinium ovatum

June

Sambucus racemosa

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July

Sequoia sempervirens

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Asarum caudatum

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Deppea splendens

Deppea splendens

October

Montanoa spp.

Montanoa spp.

November

Bidens sp.

Bidens sp.

December

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

February

Bomaria spp.

Bomarea spp.

March

Rhododendron occidentale

Rhododendron occidentale

April

Polystichum munitum

Polystichum munitum

May

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

June

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha

July

Hydrangea seemannii

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August

Wollemia nobilis

Wollemia nobilis

September

Cyathea cooperi

Cyathea cooperi

October

Pinus radiata

Pinus radiata

November

Correa spp.

Correa spp.

December

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

January

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

February

Senecio glastifolius

Senecio glastifolius

March

Ribes spp.

Ribes spp.

April

Oxalis oregana

Oxalis oregana

May

Calandrinia grandiflora

Calandrinia grandiflora

June

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Passiflora parritae

Passiflora parritae

September

Malvaviscus arboreus

Malvaviscus arboreus

October

Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress

November

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

December

Aloe plicatilis

Aloe plicatilis

January

Banksia seminuda

Banksia seminuda

February

Zantedeschia elliottiana

Zantedeschia aethiopica

March

Magnolia laevifolia

Magnolia laevifolia

April

Araucaria heterophylla

Araucaria heterophylla

May

Toxicodendron diversilobum

Toxicodendron diversilobum

June

Clarkia sp.

Clarkia sp.

July

Agapanthus

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August

Brugmansia

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September

Cedrus spp.

Cedrus spp.

October

Protea repens

Protea repens

November

Camellia sinensis

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December

Thujopsis dolabrata

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Gordonia longicarpa

Gordonia longicarpa

February

Rojasianthe superba

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March

Echium spp.

Echium spp.

April

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

May

Digitalis purpurea

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June

Felicia amelloides

Felicia amelloides

July

Ceroxylon quindiuense

Ceroxylon quindiuense

August

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

September

Ginkgo biloba

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October

Acer morrisonense

Acer morrisonense

November

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium

December

Picea sitchensis

Picea sitchensis

January

Telanthophora grandifolia

Telanthophora grandifolia

February

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

March

Leptospermum Spp.

Leptospermum

April

Salvia gesneraeflora

Salvia gesneraeflora

May

Lavandula spp.

Lavandula spp.

June

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

July

Fuchsia paniculata

Fuchsia paniculata

August

Luma apiculata

Luma apiculata

September

Luculia

Luculia

October

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

November

Cycads

Cycad

December

Restionaceae

Restionaceae

January

Hellebores

Hellebores

February

Ceanothus

Ceanothus

March

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

April

Psoralea pinnata

Psoralea pinnata

May

Fremontodendron californicum

Fremontodendron californicum

June

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum

July

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

August

Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera tinctoria

September

Pellaea rotundifolia

Pellaea rotundifolia

October

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

November

Erica canaliculata

Erica canaliculata

December

Magnolia campbelli

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January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Camellia

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March

Geranium maderense

Geranium maderense

April

Acmena smithii

Acmena smithii

May

Eschscholzia californica

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June

Dendromecon harfordii

Dendromecon harfordii

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Romneya coulteri

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Eupatorium purpureum

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Grevillea spp.

Grevillea spp.

November

Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri

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