Aesculus flava

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 3 Professionals
Common Name: yellow buckeye
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 50.00 to 75.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers fertile, moist, humusy-sandy loams. Foliage tends to scorch and generally depreciate in dry conditions. This is a taprooted tree that once established is difficult to transplant.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aesculus flava, commonly called yellow buckeye, is a medium to large deciduous tree that grows 50-75’ (less frequently to 90’) tall with an oblong-rounded crown. It is the largest of the buckeyes that are native to the U. S. It is typically found in rich soils on river bottoms, stream banks and mountain slopes from southeastern Pennsylvania to northern Alabama and Georgia and down the Ohio River valley to Illinois. Palmate compound leaves emerge in spring, each with five spreading, toothed, ovate-oblong leaflets to 4-7” long. Leaves mature to dark green in summer. Fall color often includes attractive shades of yellow-orange. Yellow flowers (each 1/2 to 1” long) in erect panicles (to 6” long) appear in mid-spring. Flowers are followed by the familiar buckeye fruit, which is a globular dehiscent capsule consisting of 1-2 buckeyes encased by a leathery light brown partitioned husk. The husk is smooth on the outside, unlike the spiny Ohio buckeye husk. Fruit on the tree is interesting but not particularly ornamental. When ripe, each buckeye turns red brown with a light eye (hilum). Since colonial times, buckeyes have been carried by many school children and adults as good luck charms even though they are poisonous. Mature trunks (to 2-3’ in diameter) have gray-brown bark that is fissured and scaly. This tree is also noted for having non-sticky buds and non-ridged bud scales. Other common names include big buckeye and sweet buckeye. Synonymous with Aesculus octandra.

Genus name is the Latin name for a kind of oak bearing edible acorns but applied by Linnaeus to this genus.

Specific epithet means yellow in reference to flower color.

Problems

Leaf blotch can be a significant problem. Powdery mildew, leaf spots and anthracnose may also occur. Buckeye lacebug, Japanese beetles, bagworms and borers are infrequent but potentially troublesome. Leaf scorch (brown edges) may occur in droughty conditions or on sites exposed to wind. Disease problems for this tree are generally not as severe as those for Ohio buckeye.

Garden Uses

Not recommended as a street tree or for use near homes because of the litter produced (particularly twigs, fruit and falling leaves). May be used as an ornamental shade tree. A good selection for more remote areas of the landscape including native plant and moist woodland areas. Michael Dirr considers this tree to be the most beautiful of the large growing Aesculus.