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Red buckeye

The pinkish-red flowers of 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)

Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • Under utility lines

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Screen,
  • Specimen,
  • Utility

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 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

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

Ornamental Interest:

  • Spring blossoms,
  • Showy flowers

Seasons 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.


Location of Aesculus pavia (Red buckeye) at the Arboretum