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Plant of the Month | February 27, 2013

Plant of the Month: Red Buckeye

There are two varieties of Aesculus pavia in Texas. The most common is the Red Buckeye (A. pavia var. pavia) which occurs from Central Texas east to Virginia through Florida. This variety prefers good deep soil such as is found at Palmetto State Park in Gonzales County.

The yellow variety (A. pavia var. flavescens) only occurs in the rocky, limestone soils of the western part of the Edwards Plateau. Where the two varieties overlap, hybridization occurs, leading to flowers with various combinations of red and
yellow.

Both make good landscape plants. The variety to use depends on the soil and moisture conditions you have. They grow as large shrubs or small trees up to 12 feet tall, and are best used as understory plants in partly shady locations.

The flowers of both varieties are very showy upright clusters 6” – 10” high that occur in Spring. A characteristic of both varieties is that they drop their leaves in late summer. As a consequence they are best used where the showy flowers can be enjoyed in spring, but the plants can fade into the background at the end of summer when they go dormant.

The large seeds and young shoots are poisonous. The plants are only moderately deer resistant, and young plants especially should be protected.

Text by John Siemssen. Photos by Lynn & Cambell Loughmiller, and Marilyn McBroom Knight, Wildflower Center


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