Content Detail

The Ohio buckeye is a neatly rounded tree with low, sweeping branches and dense foliage that provides deep shade. It is one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring. Its name comes from the ‘buckeyes,’ a small, dark brown nut with a light patch resembling the eye of a deer, which grows inside a rounded prickly fruit capsule. This species is susceptible to leaf blotch. 

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Soapberry (formerly Horse-chestnut)
  • Family (botanic) Sapindaceae (formerly Hippocastanaceae)
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Restricted sites, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Mature height 20-40 feet
  • Mature width 20-40 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Wet sites
  • Season of interest mid spring, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Butterflies, Migrant birds, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Size and form:

Ohio buckeye grows 20 to 40 feet tall and wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native from western Pennsylvania to Iowa south to Alabama and Arkansas and is commonly found near rivers and streams. C-Value: 3

Bark color and texture:

The bark is light tan to gray and is warty when young, becoming more scaly with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color:

The green leaves are palmately compound and arranged in pairs (opposite) with five to seven leaflets. They can be up to 6 inches long. Fall color is yellow to a warm pumpkin-orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

The large yellow-green flowers are 12 inches long in upright terminal clusters.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The shiny brown nuts are in a prickly husk and should not be eaten.

Plant care:

May be difficult to transplant due to the presence of a taproot. Best growth in slightly acidic, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

Ohio buckeye is susceptible to leaf blotch, powdery mildew and infestation by insects such as scale and Japanese beetles. Leaf scorch and premature leaf drop is probable in hot, dry periods. It is tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Early Glow™ Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra ‘J.N. Select’):

A cultivar with superior resistance to leaf blotch, leaf scorch and powdery mildew. Reliable red fall color and low fruit production. A Chicagoland Grows™ introduction. Its availability may be limited.


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