Randy's Plant Pick: Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
While walking on the tree trail behind the Extension State Office, I noticed all the Red Buckeye trees in full bloom. It is a small, deciduous tree or shrub in the Sapindaceae (maple) family that may grow 15 to 25 feet tall. I would classify it as an oversize larger shrub in the landscape.
Right now, it is quite stunning with its tubular, red flowers. They are about 6-to-8-inch upright clusters that last for about a month and attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Once the flowers have been pollinated, a smooth husk pod will form containing 1 to 3 shiny brown seeds. To me the husk pod is another layer of texture to this plant. The fruit is not edible by humans, but squirrels love them. The compound palmate leaves are attractive and will turn red in the fall.
How do I care for red buckeye?
Red buckeye prefers partial shade in moist well-drained soil. It will tolerate full sun but plan on the leaves being scorch in the heat of summer (not very pretty). It will tolerate a wide pH range and soil types.
Place this plant next to a walking path so that you can enjoy the spring flowers and seed pods. This would be a great plant to use in a woodland or naturalized area.