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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)

Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Illinois,
  • North America

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


  • Dry sites,
  • Wet sites,
  • Alkaline 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

Seasons 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.

Location of Aesculus flava (Yellow buckeye) at the Arboretum