Some of the most beautiful shade trees throughout the mid-west and the Ohio valley region are the Buckeyes. Throughout this area, the various species of these trees are often overlooked, partly as they may be abundant, and some of them are just unfamiliar to most people. You know a buckeye from the large round nut they grow. Considering there are about 25 native species in the Buckeye genus, all produce the large seeds.
The Buckeyes are colorful in the Fall, and they make spikes of colorful flowers in the Spring. They are hardy and easy to grow, and we offer four species for you to plant. Although our supplies vary during the year, this season, we have -
The Fall colors will range from yellow to red depending on the species. The seeds are large round nuts, with thick husks that fall off when the seeds ripen. There is no mistaking a buckeye.
The trees are typically medium in shape to broad-spreading, and they can vary in height from as short as 12 to 25 feet for the Red Buckeye, up to 80 feet for the Ohio and Yellow Buckeyes.
The flowers are borne on "spikes" and also vary according to the species, typically white to yellow, like the Ohio and Yellow Buckeyes. Very popular is the Red Buckeye which has pink to red flowers.
The buckeyes and horsechestnut grow at a medium speed, averaging 2-3 feet a year, which can vary with your climate and growing conditions. They prefer deep moist fertile soils, and full sun to partial shade, which allows them grow best, but they can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. As they make great shade trees, plant them 10 to 20 feet apart, from Zones 5 to 9. The Horsechestnut can be planted from Zones 3 to 9. These are strong hardy trees, and overall not greatly effected by diseases or pests.
How to grow these. Simply stated, these grow best in moist well-drained fertile soils with full sun. Most soils can be alright, but plenty of water and some added fertilizer will improve their growth and survival. If your soils are rocky, heavy clay, or very sandy, then add compost or other materials mixed into the planting spot. Planting instructions are included with each order, or can be read on the Nursery webpage.
Below are some notes about the Horsechestnut and the Yellow Buckeye...
The Common Horsechestnut is native to the a native to the Balkans of southern Europe across to the Himalayas, now is widely planted throughout the United States. A member of the Horsechestnut Family (Hippocastanaceae), the Horse (Aesculus hippocastanum) is just one of some 25 or so species in the Buckeye genus.
These are an attractive showy shade tree. Similar to the other Buckeyes, the Horse has an opposite palmately compound deciduous leaf composed of five to seven elliptical leaflets, varying from 4 to 10 inches long and 2 to 3.5 inches wide, yet distinctly widest near the abruptly pointed apex. The showy flowers are creamy-white tubular or bell-shaped, with marks of red or yellow, borne in erect panicles eight to twelve inches long in early spring.
By the Fall, the tree is covered with round spiny 3-parted capsules almost three inches in size. Usually one and sometimes two, the seed is a huge shiny chocolate brown stone with a light-colored hilum resembling an "eye", hence the name buckeye. The seeds are not edible, which is too bad, they are rather meaty. Mowing the lawn in the Fall is sometimes difficult and painful since the "eyes" are pitched by mowers blade.
The Common Horsechestnut is a medium sized tree varying from 25 to 60 feet tall, with a medium to wide spreading crown. These have been very popularly grown since as early as 1576 throughout the southern European region. Here, they are often planted in parks or along streets for shade and their showy flowers. Being relatively free from pests, and growing from half shade to full sun, and down to Zone 4, the Horsechestnut is a nice choice for shade. With plenty of moisture, two to three feet of growth can occur on most soil types, although they prefer the deeper better soils.
These make a worthwhile tree to have in the landscape design.
Buckeyes are great shade trees. They are hardy, moderate in growth speed, heavy sturdy wood for windfastness. As specimens, lines or windbreaks, and by themselves for shade, the Bucs are a nice choice!
This season we have the -
The Yellow Buckeye... Notes
In the vast span of the Central Hardwoods Forest region, the largest of the seven native species of Buckeyes is the Yellow Buckeye (Aesculus octandra). This splendid tree is gaining in popularity for home landscaping.
The Yellow Buckeye, also called Sweet Buckeye or Large Buckeye, prefers the moist river bottom and deep moist soils from southwestern Pennsylvania, to southern Illinois, and south to northern Alabama and Georgia. Throughout this region, it grows as scattered individuals among a wide variety of other hardwoods, including the maples, oaks, and birches.
The stout twigs are orange-brown at first, becoming pale as the stems mature. There are numerous lenticels (air-holes), and large leaf scars, often forming a V-pattern. The buds are large, up to two-thirds of an inch, sometimes yellow to scarlet in color.
It's yellowish-green leaves, like all of the buckeyes, are palmately compound borne on a stiff stem up to six inches long. Its finely toothed leaflets are four to seven inches in length and up to three inches wide, and arranged on the leaf in a hand or palm-shape with five to seven fingers.
Buckeyes are easy to recognize once they are in flower and produce fruit. Flowers are borne in erect panicles five to seven inches long, with yellow petals. In the Fall, the nearly round capsules up to three inches wide splits open releasing two oval smooth brown nuts about an inch and a half long. Yellow Buckeye seeds are sweeter than the other buckeyes, but not quite palatable for humans, wildlife and domestic animals do relish them.
Yellow Buckeye has dark brown bark about three-quarters of an inch thick, with shallow fissures that separates on the surface into thin small scales. The wood of the Yellow is uniform in texture, lightweight, and structurally weak. Although this and Ohio Buckeye are the two commercially used buckeyes, the Yellow is used more for crates and boxes in the food industry since the white wood is odorless and tasteless, and light in weight. The wood is also used in some furniture, caskets, and even artificial limbs.
These are very attractive shade trees getting 50 to 90 feet tall, yet not broad-spreading like and oak or maple. They grow fast, and are planted from Zones 5 to 9 in full sun to partial shade. These are often planted in parks throughout their natural range.
For something different in the landscape design, the Yellow Buckeyes are a nice choice.
How to Grow the Bucs: The roots of the younger trees are like a fat carrot, so the initial planting hole can be 12-18 inches deep and a shovel in width. Good rich moist soils are the best, full sun is prefered, but up to half shade can work too. Water and fertilizer regularly, plus a thick layer of mulch around the tree, planting is very simple.
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Last Update: 10/10/2015
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