Aesculus californica, The California Buckeye

Buckeye seedpod, about 2" (5 cms) across:
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We saw these growing up in the Napa valley as well as in Claremont;  their native range is throughout coastal California where winters are not overly cold.  A small deciduous tree that grows to about 15 feet (5 m) tall and wide, it produces beautiful white flowers in springtime.  The bark is dramatically silver-white.  However, it has several drawbacks which has perhaps kept it from becoming a popular ornamental.

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One problem is the toxicity of the large seeds, which are in a fig or pear-like fleshy fruit before they dry and fall.  Another is that the nectar of the beautiful flowers is deadly to honeybees (though California native bees and butterflies are apparently immune to the Buckeye's toxin).   The other main drawback is that the tree may begin dropping its foliage as early as mid-summer if it is too dry.  This adaptation allows it to survive drought, but as an ornamental, long periods of leaflessness may be undesirable.

It made for a small strange presence, like a ghostly child, among the Coast Live Oaks and Manzanitas on the Napa hillsides;  in Claremont it was denser, larger and looked more robust, though just as leafless, at this time of year.

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I wonder if I can get those seeds to germinate...

Comments

  1. These are super easy to start, but you have to plant them right away.

    Love the seeds, like hardwood.

    non-secateur.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Dustin, I will give them a try.

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  3. do you know about the blooms and the bees?

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  4. Dustin: that the nectar is possibly poisonous to non-native bees? Or...??

    ReplyDelete

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