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Buckeyes are known for their flower displays in May, and yellow buckeyes are no exception. This Illinois native produces yellow flowers in upright clusters measuring up to 6 inches tall. In fall, the leaves display a yellow-orange color. It is susceptible to leaf blotch and may be difficult to find in nurseries. Formerly known as Aesculus octandra.

  • Family (English) Soapberry (formerly Horse-chestnut)
  • Family (botanic) Sapindaceae (formerly Hippocastanaceae)
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 60-80 feet
  • Mature width 25-35 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Wet sites
  • Season of interest mid spring, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Oval, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries, Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Small mammals
  • Has cultivars No

Native geographic location and habitat:

In Illinois, yellow buckeye is native only to a few counties in the far southern end of the state. It is often found along rivers and streams. 

Bark color and texture:

The bark is light gray and has a flaky, scaly texture.

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

Opposite leaves are palmately compound with five leaflets. Leaf is about 6 inches long overall. Fall color is orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Large, 6 to 8 inch long, yellow flowers  tinged in green form in upright terminal clusters.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Shiny brown nuts form in a smooth husk. Buckeyes should not be eaten.

Plant care:

Yellow buckeye is difficult to transplant due to a taproot. It is tolerant of wet sites and prefers a slightly acid soil.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Prone to leaf scorch and a fungal leaf blotch. Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.


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