Yellow Buckeye - Aesculus flava
Family Hippocastanaceae
Yellow buckeye is the largest of the
buckeyes at up to 75 feet. Seeds are toxic.
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Yellow buckeye seeds & bark

The abundant, large nuts of yellow buckeye contain much starch but are apparently not suitable for food because they contain a poisonous glucoside, aesculin. Native Americans ate yellow buckeye nuts but first they roasted the nuts among hot stones, peeled, mashed, and leached them with water for several days. This treatment apparently removed the aesculin.

Young shoots and seeds of buckeye have also been reported to be poisonous to livestock and some landowners in Indiana have eradicated buckeye for this reason. Because the seeds of yellow buckeye are poisonous, wild animals do not use them for food and therefore animals probably do not limit the reproduction of this species. The wood is used for pulpwood, woodenware, and sometimes for lumber. [1]

Yellow buckeye, also called sweet buckeye or big buckeye, is the largest of the buckeyes and is most abundant in the Great Smoky Mountains of southeastern United States. It grows best on moist and deep, dark humus soils with good drainage in river bottoms, coves, and northern slopes. The young shoots and seeds contain a poisonous glycoside that is harmful to animals, but the shape and foliage make this an attractive shade tree. The wood is the softest of all American hardwoods and makes poor lumber, but it is used for pulpwood and woodenware.

Yellow buckeye grows in a wide variety of climates. Average annual precipitation ranges from 2130 mm (84 in) per year in local mountainous areas of western North Carolina to 990 mm (39 in) in southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Yellow buckeye grows best in river bottoms, along stream banks, and in the deep soils of the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains. The greatest concentration of yellow buckeye in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee is in mesic coves, canyons, and ravines. [1]

Yellow Buckeye in late spring (May 25)
Yellow buckeye is polygamo-monoecious; the yellow or yellowish-white flowers on a single inflorescence may be either staminate or perfect. They appear from April to June after the leaves. This specimen at the Morton Arboretum in northern Illinois was flowering on May 26th.

No major insect enemies of yellow buckeye are known that consistently cause severe defoliation or damage to the woody parts of the tree. A buckeye lacebug (Corythucha aesculi) has been reported as a defoliator of buckeyes, and in southeastern Ohio the yellow buckeye frequently is infested by this insect. Yellow buckeye is relatively free of diseases.  [1]

yellow buckeye in autumn
Yellow buckeye displays striking orange-yellow fall colors
1. Williams, R.D. 1990. Aesculus flava Willd. – Yellow Buckeye. Pp. 92-95, IN: R.M. Burns and B.H. Honkala  Silvics of North America. Volume 2 Hardwoods. USDA, Forest Service Agric. Handbook 654
2. Yellow Buckeye, Morton Arboretum acc. 12-U-1 photos, summer & autumn by Bruce Marlin
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Family Hippocastanaceae - Horse-Chestnuts & Buckeyes
Consisting of three genra a 15 species, this small family is sometimes lumped together with Aceraceae (maple) in family Sapindaceae. Many are native to Europe, Asia, and North, Central, and South America. By far the most familiar of this family (at least in America) is the Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra).
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