Aesculus californica (Spach) Nutt., Fl. N. Amer. 1: 251 1838. (Syn: Calothyrsus californica Spach; Hippocastanum californicum (Spach) Greene; Pavia californica Hartw. (Unresolved); Pawia californica Kuntze (Unresolved));
It is a large shrub or small tree growing to 4–12 m tall, with gray bark often coated with lichens or mosses. It typically is multi-trunked with a crown as broad as it is high. The leaves are dark green, palmately compound with five (rarely seven) leaflets, each leaflet 6–17 cm long, with a finely toothed margin and (particularly in spring) downy surfaces. The leaves are tender and prone to damage from both spring freezing or snow and summer heat and desiccation.
The flowers are sweet-scented, white to pale pink, produced in erect panicles 15–20 cm long and 5–8 cm broad. The fruit is a fig-shaped capsule 5–8 cm long, containing a large (2–5 cm), round, orange-brown seed; the seeds are poisonous. The California Buckeye has adapted to its native Mediterranean climate by growing during the wet winter and spring months and entering dormancy in late summer, though those growing in coastal regions tend to hold on to their leaves until mid-autumn; it begins the year’s growth in early spring and begins dropping leaves by mid-summer.
This buckeye is found growing in a wide range of conditions from crowded, moist, semi-shaded canyon bottoms to dry south-facing slopes and hilltops. It is also widely distributed in the state, growing along the central coast, in the foothills and lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada, in the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains in the Rogue Valley in Oregon. In northern California up to 1700 m altitude and in the Cascade range.
Local native American tribes, including the Pomo, Yokut, and Luiseño, used the poisonous nuts to stupefy schools of fish in small streams to make them easier to catch. The bark, leaves, and fruits contain the neurotoxic glycoside aesculin, which causes hemolysis of red blood cells. Buckeye also makes a good fireboard for bowdrill or hand drill.
Native groups occasionally used the nuts as a food supply when the acorn supply was sparse; after boiling and leaching the toxin out of the nut meats for several days, they could be ground into a meal similar to that made from acorns. The nectar of the flowers is toxic to the Asian/European honeybee, so the trees should not be planted near apiaries. When the shoots are small and leaves are new, they are lower in toxins and are grazed by livestock and wildlife. The flowers are a rich nectar source for many species of butterflies.
It is used as an ornamental plant for its striking leaf buds, lime green foliage, fragrant white flowers, red-brown foliage in early summer, and architectural silver branches through fall. Trees are long lived estimated between 250-280 (300 maximum) years.
(From Wikipedia 12.8.13)
Tree for ID – 040813 – RK : Attachments (4). 8 posts by 3 authors. V. interesting-looking tree. V. tall – was fascinated by the flowers. Pics taken –08/06/2013 at around 9.15 am local time – in Los Altos, California. Request ID
Aesculus sp., I think. IMG 1672 looks different…
Yes Aesculus species. I have also observed these trees planted at many places in Bay area.
Thank you … for the ID. Looked up flowersofindia & the Indian Horse Chestnut resembles this. …, the pic of the leaves – IMG 1672 is that of the same tree.
The leaves of Aesculus are palmately compound (as seen in the 2nd picture). So, the last pictures is of a different plant.
Thank you, … for this input. There are are 3 – 4 trees growing close by. I think I have taken other pics. of the same flowering tree at a later date. Will put them on the same thread if I come across them.
I think Aesculus californica is correct. Looked up Wikipedia:
California Horse-chestnut or California Buckeye.
Will post pic of fruit too.
Further pics of same tree – Aesculus species. I think the tree trunk on the extreme left – IMG 2144 – is the Aesculus tree. All these trees are in the neighbouring compound.
Tree from California: Aesculus or Sterculia?: I had photographed this tree in California in September, 2010, thinking it to be Aesculus caiifornicus, but after seeing the fruits of Sterculia uploaded by … today, I am doubtful. Please give your opinion. Is it some species of Sterculia with palmately compound leaves and 1 follicle maturing or Aesculus californicus, as thought by me earlier?
This should be an Aesculus!!
Yes it is Aesculus californica