UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

Water Wise Plants

Aesculus californica

ES-kew-lus ka-li-FOR-ni-ka
Common Name
California Buckeye
Plant Type
Mature Size
Can grow 10 - 25 ft. or more, and spread 30 ft. or wider
Water Requirements
Very Low: water deeply several times a summer
Sun/Shade Requirements
Full to half sun, shade
  • Bees
  • Butterflies
  • Hummingbirds
Flower Color
White to pink
Maintenance- Design- Planting Tips

The California buckeye is an unusual native because it is summer deciduous. It will naturally drop its leaves with the heat of summer, but with regular watering it may hold leaves longer. Its nectar/pollen is poisonous to European honeybees, but not to native bees. The flower has a candy or perfume-like scent, and blooms in very early spring.

The tree produces a large nut that resembles a buck's eye, thus the name. The nut is poisonous to eat. The nuts easily reseed where they fall, so collect them if new sprouts are not desired.

Without summer leaves, the pale bark of the California buckeye offers interest and structure in the garden and is very easy to prune and shape.

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