Habit: large symmetrical spreading tree, the broad rounded crown is usually wider than it is tall. Aesculus californica is often a multi-stemmed tree or thicket-forming shrub with smooth silvery gray bark and large oblong dark green leaves. Sweet scented flowers appear in a showy 6” cluster and are white with orange stamens giving a pinkish-white appearance. Flowers open in late May. The fruit is a pear shaped capsule containing a 1 or 2 large smooth brown poisonous seeds. The fall leaves of this deciduous shrub are colorful.
Ecology: California buckeye is found in moist semi-shaded canyon bottoms, borders of streams and dry south facing slopes. Native to California’s Coast Range and Sierra Nevadas typically below 4,000 ft (1,219 m) and is only found in California.
Growing Conditions: full sun to partial shade with moist medium to gravelly soil; has low cold tolerance but resistant to drought. Prefers a Mediterranean like climate, cool moist winters with hot dry summers.
The tree acts as a soil binder, which prevents erosion in hilly regions. Seeds are poisonous to humans and most mammals.