The Buckeye Family

The Buckeye Family

The buckeye family (Aesculus sp.) is relatively low value for mast production because the nuts are mildly poisonous and avoided by most wildlife. Buckeye trees have even been eradicated from many areas by landowners to prevent livestock being poisoned by the nuts, leaves, or bark.

The nuts are used by squirrels as a food source, however, and native California tribes cooked and leached the nuts to remove the poison before eating them, though most Eastern tribes and early colonists avoided them in favor of safer and tastier nuts. The beautiful nuts are also regarded by many people as a good luck charm.

Buckeyes make attractive ornamental trees in areas where livestock poisoning is not a serious risk. The Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) is the state tree of Ohio.

Native buckeye species include:

  • California buckeye (Aesculus californica)
  • Yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava)
  • Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
  • Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
  • Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
  • Painted buckeye (Aesculus sylvatica)
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jesse/3452853447/