TREES & plants

Red buckeye

Red buckeye is quite lovely in spring, with its tall clusters of red flowers. It is a small tree, able to be planted under power lines. This tree is susceptible to leaf blotch.

Botanical name: 
Aesculus pavia
All Common Names: 
red buckeye
Family (English): 
Soapberry (formerly Horse-chestnut)
Family (Botanic): 
Sapindaceae (formerly Hippocastanaceae)
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Illinois
  • North America
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
  • Under utility lines
Landscape Uses: 
  • Utility
  • Specimen
  • Screen
Size Range: 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
Mature Height: 
15-20 feet
Mature Width: 
15-30 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Prefers
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Tolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms
  • Showy flowers
Season of Interest: 
  • Late spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Red
Shape or Form: 
  • Oval
  • Round
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • No
  • Browsers
  • Butterflies
  • Hummingbirds
  • Small mammals
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

May be difficult to find in nursery trade.
Best sited in part shade.
Supply adequate moisture in full sun.

Disease, pests and problems

Powdery mildew and leaf blotch are potential problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to the southern United States, up into the southern tip of Illinois.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is dark brown; relatively smooth; flaking off with age.

Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia)Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia)photo: John Hagstrom

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, palmately compound with 5 leaflets; 3 to 6 inches long.
Handsome, dark green in summer with minimal fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Terminal clusters, 4 to 8 inches long, of carmine-red flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Shiny, brown nuts (buckeyes) in a smooth, oval husk.
Buckeyes should not be eaten.