TREES & plants

Yellow buckeye

Yellow buckeye starting to develop fall color.

Buckeyes are known for their flower displays in May; yellow buckeyes are no exception. This Illinois native produces yellow flowers in upright clusters measuring up to 6 inches tall. In fall, the leaves display a yellow-orange color. It is susceptible to leaf blotch and may be difficult to find in nurseries. Formerly known as Aesculus octandra.

Botanical name: 
Aesculus flava
All Common Names: 
yellow buckeye, sweet buckeye
Family (English): 
Soapberry (formerly Horse-chestnut)
Family (Botanic): 
Sapindaceae (formerly Hippocastanaceae)
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Illinois, 
  • North America
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • City parkway, 
  • Wide median
Landscape Uses: 
  • Parkway/street, 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
60-80 feet
Mature Width: 
25-35 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • 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: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Tolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries, 
  • Messy fruit/plant parts
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms, 
  • Fall color, 
  • Showy flowers, 
  • Attractive bark
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Yellow
Shape or Form: 
  • Oval, 
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • No
  • Small mammals
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Difficult to transplant due to a taproot.
Tolerant of wet sites; prefers a slightly acid soil.

Disease, pests, and problems

Prone to leaf scorch and a fungal leaf blotch.

Disease, pests, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

In Illinois, native only to a few counties in the far southern end of the state. 
Often found along rivers and streams. 

Bark color and texture 

The bark is light gray and has a flaky, scaly texture.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite leaves are palmately compound with five leaflets.  Leaf is about 6 inches long overall.
Fall color is orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Large, 6-8 inch long,  upright terminal clusters of yellow flowers tinged with green.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Shiny brown nuts in a smooth husk.
Buckeyes should not be eaten.

Aesculus flava or Yellow buckeye