- Common Name(s):
- Painted buckeye
- Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs, Trees
Aesculus sylvatica, commonly called painted buckeye or dwarf buckeye, is a fast-growing, thicket forming, understory deciduous shrub (6-15’) or small tree (to 30’) that is native to the southeastern U.S. where it is typically found in moist, rich woods or along streams from southern Virginia to Georgia west to Tennessee and Alabama. It is particularly prevalent in Piedmont plateau bottom lands and along the coastal plain. It may be found in the Blue Ridge Mountains in elevations to 3300’.
Its bark is a light gray-brown and smooth.
Regions: Mountain, Piedmont
Seasons of Interest:
Leaves: Spring Blooms: Early spring, spring Nut/Fruit/Seed: Fall
Wildlife Value: This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer. Hummingbirds feed on the nectar from the flowers in the spring. Squirrels eat the seeds.
Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: For plants in the genus Aesculus, potential disease problems include powdery mildew, rust and anthracnose and potential insect problems include bagworms, Japanese beetles and borers. Leaf scorch (edges brown up) may occur in droughty conditions or on sites exposed to strong wind.
Foliage decline usually occurs throughout summer resulting in loss of leaves in early September.
- 6-15 ft.
- The Painted buckeye has bisexual and male flowers (to 1 1/4” long) that appear in the same flower cluster (each cluster to 8” long) with the bisexual flowers located near the base. The flower color is variable. Its flowers are often yellow, cream-colored or pink, but sometimes wholly red or yellow veined with red. The flowers bloom in showy upright clusters (to 4-6” long) in April-May. The fruit of the Painted buckeye is a leathery, globular, 3-parted capsule (to 1.5” thick) containing 1 to 3 large, shiny, dark brown seeds commonly known as buckeyes. The seed ripens in late summer at which point the capsules split open to release them.
- The Painted buckeye is winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-8 (possibly Zone 6 if sited in a protected location) where it is best grown in rich, moist, humusy, well-drained soils in part shade. Avoid dry soils. It will naturalize in the landscape by underground runners.
- Medium to coarse
- Rounded, open habit
- Partial shade
- USA, NC
- Poison Part:
- Seeds and tea made from leaves and sprouts
- Poison Delivery Mode:
- Muscular weakness and paralysis, dilated pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, paralysis, and stupor
- Toxic Principle:
- Glycoside aesculin, saponin aesin, possibly alkaloids
- HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN!
- Found in:
- Forest or natural area in rich woods, along stream banks; landscape, as cultivated flowering woody shrub
- 6-15 ft.
- Growth Rate:
- The palmate-compound leaves of the Painted buckeye are among the first to emerge in spring and among the first to drop in late summer to early fall. Each leaf has 5 short-stemmed, oblong-obovate leaflets (each leaflet to 4-6” long). The leaflets are distinguished by having yellow to orange midveins. Its leaves sometimes emerge burgundy-red in early spring before turning to yellow-green above and green beneath.
NCCES plant id: 943