Native Texas Trees: Texas Buckeye
August 2, 2013
Texas is a big state: That means we have lots of native trees. From time to time we like to feature a Texas native tree so you can identify them in your own area. The Texas Buckeye (also referred to as an Ohio Buckeye), Aesculus glabra var. arguta, is classified as a small multi-trunked tree or large shrub. Distinctive features of this native tree are its large palmate leaves and white to yellow spring blooms held in large clusters. The large spiny fruit appears in summer and produce large shiny black seeds.
Plants typically grow to 35-40 feet tall and about 35 feet wide in a partial sun location. Texas Buckeye is prone to losing foliage in summertime, especially if spring weather has encouraged fungal diseases. They're most commonly found on hard limestone in the central Edwards Plateau and that is where plants reach their largest size. But they can also be found growing in the northern Blacklands, Pineywoods, Cross Timbers and other areas. As such, they are adaptable to different soils,such as our heavier clay in the DFW area. However, they may remain smaller in these areas.
It is thought that most or all parts of the plant are toxic if consumed. So while those fruit and seed might look appealing, leave them on the trees! Unless of course, you'd like to try growing one from seed. If so, you should collect seed as soon as they drop in the fall and replant in desired location. If you have wooded areas on your property, ravines or shaded hillsides, Texas Buckeye makes a good native understory tree.
If you're in the Dallas area, you can visit the Texas Buckeye Trail off the Trinity at Bexar Street. Dallas Master Naturalists maintain the trail so that it can be enjoyed by hikers. Along this trial, you'll find a large stand of native Texas Buckeye trees that bloom in spring.