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Aesculus pavia L.

Red buckeye

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderSapindalesIncludes citrus; maples, horse-chestnuts, lychees and rambutans; mangos and cashews; frankincense and myrrh; mahogany and neem
FamilySapindaceaeSoapberry family
GenusAesculusMeans “edible acorn” (though some species are definitely not edible)
SpeciespaviaNamed for Dutch botanist Peter Paaw (Latinized as Petrus Pavius)

About plant names...

Red buckeye is a North American native plant. Aesculus, a name chosen by Linnaeus, means “edible acorn,” but this name was meant for horse chestnuts: red buckeye seeds are poisonous. The species, pavia, is named for the Dutch botanist, Peter Paaw.

Identification: These shrubs are 12-20' (3.7-6.1 m) in height, and about the same in diameter. Leaves are in palmlike clusters of five (sometimes seven), emanating from a common point. They are a dark, shiny green, with fine serrations and often an orange midvein, 5-10" (12-25 cm) long. It has attractive 4-10" (10-25 cm) long clusters (panicles) of red, orange-red, or yellow flowers. Individual flowers are tubular, about 1" (2.5 cm) long, favored by ruby-throated hummingbirds. Fruits are somewhat pear-shaped, 1½-3" (3.8-7.6 cm) around, containing three red chestnut-like seeds per fruit. The outer husk enclosing the seeds is tan.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones Seeds and young shoots are deadly poisonous, and other parts of the plant are not palatable. Some native cultures crushed the poisonous parts of these plants and immersed them in water to stun and capture fish.

Online References:

Aesculus pavia on www.carolinanature.com (great photos)

Aesculus pavia at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Aesculus pavia on floridata.com

Aesculus pavia on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants


Sibley, David Allen, The Sibley Guide to Trees, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, p. 330

Aesculus pavia (red buckeye)

3/26/1998 · Memphis, Ten­nes­see · By Tim Chandler


Aesculus pavia description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Aesculus pavia (red buckeye)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3½ × 4" (9.2 × 10 cm)

Aesculus pavia (red buckeye)

1/19/2021 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts

Aesculus pavia (red buckeye)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Aesculus pavia (red buckeye)

3/26/2012 · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Range: Zones 4-8:

About this map...