Ohio buckeye

(Aesculus glabra var. glabra)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

Ohio buckeye

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNA - Not applicable

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

Midwest

FAC - Facultative

Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative

Nativity

Native to eastern and central United States, including Iowa; cultivated in Minnesota; may have escaped cultivation

 
Occurrence

Uncommon in Minnesota

 
Habitat

Moist to mesic. Floodplain forests, mesic upland forests, streambanks and river banks. Full sun to part shade; moderately shade tolerant. Well-drained soil.

 
Flowering

March to May

 
Flower Color

Greenish-yellow

 
Height

20 to 40

 

Identification

This is an erect, small to medium sized, slow growing, moderately long lived, deciduous tree. It can be from 20 to 60 tall at maturity, though it is rarely more than 40 in height and 24 in diameter at breast height. In Minnesota it is usually no more than 30 in height. It reaches full size in 60 to 80 years.

The trunk is short and much branched. In the forest the crown is oblong with ascending branches. When in the open the crown is spreading and broadly rounded.

The bark on young trees is thin, yellowish-brown, and smooth. As it ages it becomes dark grayish-brown and develops shallow fissures and corky, scaly plates. On mature trees the bark is brownish-gray, rough, and deeply furrowed with thick, scaly plates. Older bark has an alligator hide appearance and is often lighter gray.

The twigs are stout and reddish-brown to ashy gray. They have moderate-sized pith and a very disagreeable odor when broken. The leaf scars are large, broad, and shield-shaped. They have 3 bundle scars.

Terminal buds are reddish-brown, ½ to ¾ long, egg-shaped, and widest at the middle. They are covered with several pairs of triangular, overlapping scales that are ridged in the middle. The scales are covered with a powder and are not sticky. Lateral buds are similar but much smaller.

The leaves are deciduous, opposite, and pentagonal, kidney-shaped, or almost circular in outline. They are palmately divided into usually 5, rarely 7, leaflets. Each leaf is on a slender, 3 to 6 long, hairless leaf stalk (petiole). The petiole is about as long as the terminal leaflet. The leaves appear in the early spring. The earliest leaves are sometimes killed by a spring frost.

The leaflets are mostly inversely egg-shaped to elliptic, 2¾ to 6¼ long, and 1¼ to 2 wide, sometimes wider. They are tapered at the base and long-tapered to a point at the tip. The upper surface is yellowish-green, bright green, or dark green, and either hairless or minutely short-hairy along the veins. The lower surface is usually paler green, and is sparsely to densely covered with short and curly, sometimes with long and woolly, hairs, sometimes just along the veins. The margins are finely and irregularly toothed with sharp, forward pointing teeth. In autumn the leaves turn yellow and are among the first to drop.

The flowers appear after the leaves from March to May. Each tree bears both bisexual (perfect) and male (staminate) flowers. The inflorescence is an upright, pyramid-shaped, 4 to 6 long, branched cluster (panicle) at the end of smaller branches. The flowers near the base of the branches of the panicle are perfect, the remaining are staminate.

The flowers are ¾ to 1¾ long. They have 5 sepals, 4 petals, 7 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are yellow to greenish-yellow and are fused at the base into a more or less bell-shaped tube (calyx) with 5 rounded lobes. The petals are greenish-yellow, to ¾ long, and narrowed to a stalk-like base (clawed). The upper pair is more or less inversely lance-shaped and gradually tapered to the clawed base. They sometimes have an orangish or reddish central region and/or spots. The lower pair is shorter and broader, and is abruptly tapered to the claw-like base. The stamens protrude well beyond the corolla. They have white, to long stalks (filaments) and orange anthers. The style is white, unbranched, and longer than the stamens.

The fruit is a light brown to brown, egg-shaped, inversely egg-shaped, or nearly globular, ¾ to 2¾ long and wide capsule. The outer wall is leathery and warty and is usually covered with numerous spines that are shed as the fruit ages. Each fruit has 3 or 4 sections and contains usually 1, sometimes 2, rarely 3 or 4 seeds. The seeds (nuts) are not edible.

The fruit ripens in mid-fall and is dispersed by gravity from September to late October.

 
Record

No records kept for non-native trees.

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Pests and Diseases

 


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 2, 3, 4, 7, 29, 30.


Comments

Poisonous
All parts of the Ohio buckeye tree are toxic, including the nut, leaves, and bark. The toxicity is due to the presence of the glycoside aesculin, the saponin aescin, and possibly alkaloids.


Taxonomy

Family:

Sapindaceae (soapberry)

 

Subfamily:

Hippocastanoideae

 

Tribe:

Hippocastaneae

 

Genus:

Aesculus (horse chestnuts)

 

Section:

Pavia

 
Synonyms

Aesculus glabra var. leucodermis

Aesculus glabra var. micrantha

Aesculus glabra var. monticola

Aesculus glabra var. pallida

Aesculus glabra var. sargentii

 
Common
Names

Ohio buckeye

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

calyx

The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.

 

claw

A stalk-like narrowed base of some petals and sepals.

 

corolla

A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.

 

filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

palmate

Similar to a hand. Having more than three lobes or leaflets that radiate from a single point at the base of the leaf.

 

panicle

A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.

 

perfect

Referring to a flower that has both male and female reproductive organs.

 

petiole

The stalk of a leaf blade or compound leaf that attaches the leaf blade to the stem.

 

sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

staminate

Referring to a flower that has a male reproductive organs (stamens) but does not have a female reproductive organ (pistil).

       

Visitor Photos

   
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Randy Kogel


Fruit of an Ohio buckeye tree, Freeborn County, MN, July 2017

  Ohio buckeye    

       
       
       

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Leaves

  Ohio buckeye   Ohio buckeye
       

Leaf

  Ohio buckeye   Ohio buckeye
  five leaflets   seven leaflets
       

Infructescence

  Ohio buckeye   Ohio buckeye
       

Fruit

  Ohio buckeye    
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
Bill Keim
 
   
     

 

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Other Videos

 
  Trees with Don Leopold - Ohio buckeye
ESFNature
 
   
 
About

Published on Jan 6, 2014

Don Leopold demonstrates the characteristics of Ohio buckeye.

Content produced by Christopher Baycura for the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).

 
     
  Aesculus glabra (Stan Hokanson).wmv
TheCampusTrees
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 25, 2012

Professor Stan Hokanson discussing the Ohio Buckeye Tree (Aesculus glabra) as a Minnesota landscape tree.

 
     

 

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Randy Kogel
July 2017

Location: Freeborn County, MN

Fruit of an Ohio buckeye tree

Ohio buckeye


     
     
 

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