TREES & plants

Red buckeye

Red buckeye is one of the earliest native trees to leaf out in the spring, followed by beautiful carmine-red flowers in late spring. 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: 
  • 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
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: 
  • Showy flowers
  • Spring blossoms
Season of Interest: 
  • Late spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Red
Shape or Form: 
  • Upright
  • Oval
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • No
  • Browsers
  • Butterflies
  • Hummingbirds
  • Small mammals
More Information: 

Size and Form

10 to 20 feet high and 15 to 25 feet wide;  round to oval shape

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, leaf blotch

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.