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Aesculus californica

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
ES-kew-lus kal-ih-FOR-nih-kah
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Deciduous shrub or sometimes small tree with and open flat-topped crown and short trunk.  It has an early leaf drop and is deciduous much of the year revealing its smooth silver-gray bark.  Branchlets are reddish gray-brown when young.  This plant usually breaks dormancy in late winter, but will return to dormancy during hot, dry summer months. 

Seasons of Interest:

Leaf: Early fall Bloom: Spring/Summer May-June  Fruit/Nut/Seed: Summer/Fall  Buds:  Winter, sticky  Bark: Winter, attractive gray

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Bagworms, Japanese beetle and borers can be problems.  It can suffer from powdery mildew, rust, and anthracnose.  Responds to intense heat, wind or drought stress by dropping leaves.  All parts of California buckeye are poisonous to humans if ingested.

 

Found in: Landscape as cultivated woody shrub

Poisonous part: Seeds and tea made from leaves and sprouts.

Site: Full sun to partial shade. Needs to be planted in a protected area north of zone 6. Preforms best in medium moisture, well-drained soil.

Form: Flat topped crown

Cultivars:
  • 'Canyon Pink'
Tags:
#fragrant#hummingbirds#white#butterflies#pink#sun#deciduous#fall color#birds#small tree#pollinators#poisonous#full sun#partial shade#interesting bark#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#pink flowers#white flower#showy#tree#deciduous shrub#winter interest#flowering tree#pink flower#poisonous plant#woody shrub#borers#bagworms#deer resistant
Cultivars:
  • 'Canyon Pink'
Tags:
#fragrant#hummingbirds#white#butterflies#pink#sun#deciduous#fall color#birds#small tree#pollinators#poisonous#full sun#partial shade#interesting bark#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#pink flowers#white flower#showy#tree#deciduous shrub#winter interest#flowering tree#pink flower#poisonous plant#woody shrub#borers#bagworms#deer resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Aesculus
    Species:
    californica
    Family:
    Sapindaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    California
    Wildlife Value:
    Nectar from flowers attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Tolerates damage by deer.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Enhancement
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Tolerates damage by deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a smooth, pear to fig-shaped leathery capsule with 1-3 large, brown, shiny seeds, each with a pale scar (the "buck's eye").
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Long (4-12”), terminal clusters of creamy white or pinkish fragrant flowers appear from May-June. The stamens are longer than the 5 petals.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Opposite, shiny dark green palmately divided leaves with 5 narrow-elliptic leaflets (each to 6” long) with fine marginal teeth.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Bark Description:
    Bark is an attractive silvery gray in winter. Branchlets are reddish gray-brown when young.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Winter Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
  • Poison:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Poisonous if ingested. HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN! Poison symptoms include muscular weakness and paralysis, dilated pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, paralysis, and stupor. (Poisonous part: Seeds and tea made from leaves and sprouts; however all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.)
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Glycoside esculin, saponin aescin, possibly alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems