Theodore Payne California Native Plant Database

Aesculus californica

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Botanical Name: Aesculus californica
Common Name: California Buckeye

Showy in bloom. Will drop its leaves in response to heat and drought, revealing attractive branches in late summer through winter. All parts are toxic.

Plant Family: Hippocastanaceae
Plant Type: Tree
Height by Width: 30' H x 18' W
Growth Habit: Tree
Deciduous/Evergreen: Summer/Winter deciduous
Growth Rate: Moderate
Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Soil Preference: Adaptable
Water Requirements: Drought-tolerant to occasional
Cold Hardy to: 5,100'
Flower Season: Spring
Flower Color: White
Endangered?: Not listed
Distribution: Central & so. Northwest CA, no. & central Central CA, so. Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada Foothills, Tehachapi Range, sw Mojave Desert, foothills in Great Central Valley
Natural Habitat: Dry slopes, canyons, borders of streams below 5,100'

Image:hummingbird_iconA.jpg Image:songbird_iconA.jpg Image:butterfly_iconA.jpg Image:clay_iconA.jpg Image:fragrant_iconA.jpg Image:slope_iconA.jpg

Care and Maintenance

  • Introduced into cultivation in California by Theodore Payne.
  • From California Native Plants', Theodore Payne's 1941 catalog: "A small deciduous tree forming a broad rounded top. Leaves large, palmate, divided into 5 to 7 leaflets. Flowers white, sometimes tinted pink, borne in large cylindrical clusters. Very striking in bloom. Gallon cans, 50c; 5 gallon cans, $1.75. Bare roots October to February -- 3 to 4 feet, $2.00; 4 to 5 feet, $2.50; 5 to 6 feet, $3.00."
Other Names
  • Bornstein, Carol, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien. California Native Plants for the Garden. Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press. 2005.
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