18 June 2017

Bottlebrush Buckeye for Shade Gardens is Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebursh Buckeye
Cold hardy in zones 4 to 8, Bottlebrush Buckeye is a lovely addition to shade and rain gardens.

Paige Nugent at A Girl in Her Garden said, "It holds dark green leaves in the summer and throws up white flower spikes over them in June to July. Unlike other buckeyes, it holds its leaves well into autumn when they turn a brilliant yellow. Late summer it makes buckeyes which begin by looking like bright yellow spiky pears on the plant. The seed is poisonous to humans so don’t try it as a snack." 

Bottlebrush Buckeye is a southern native but can do pretty well in zone 4 or 5 climates with care, especially supplemental water during our drought months.

Our shrub came from a home vendor at the farmer's market in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He dug it out of his back woods so I'm confident in saying it is not a hybrid of the native variety.

It's in its third year with us and this is the first year it has made such a nice flower. The first two years the flowers were insignificant. Butterflies, moths and bees like the flowers; squirrels eat the nuts which are poisonous to us.

Missouri Botanical Garden experts say about this understory shrub -
No serious insect or disease problems.

"Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers rich, moist loams. Intolerant of dry soils, particularly in the early years before its root system becomes well established. Pruning is usually unnecessary. Though native to rich woodland areas in Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, it is winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 5.
Photo - Sagebud.com
Aesculus parviflora. commonly called bottlebrush buckeye, is noted for being one of the best summer-flowering shrubs for shade areas. It is a dense, mounded, suckering, deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub which typically grows 6-12' tall. Features palmate green leaves (5-7 leaflets) and erect, showy, cylindrical panicles (to 12" long) of tubular white flowers with conspicuous red anthers and pinkish filaments. Mid-summer bloom can be spectacular. Flowers give way to glossy inedible, pear-shaped nuts (buckeyes) encased in husks, however these nuts are infrequently produced in cultivation in the northern parts of this shrub's growing range (including St. Louis). Foliage turns yellow in autumn. A very large planting of bottlebrush buckeye can be observed on both sides of the sidewalk leading south from the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Genus name is the Latin name for a kind of oak bearing edible acorns but applied by Linnaeus to this genus.

Specific epithet means small flowers."


Pine Ridge Gardens in London Arkansas sells 
Yellow Buckeye - Aesculus flava - 75 ft. tree from Illinois
Ohio Buckeye - Aesculus glabra - understory or sun
Texas Buckeye - Aesculus glabra v arguta - TX Buckeye for shade
Bottlebrush Buckeye - Aesculus parviflora - 5-10 ft. tall, forms suckers/root sprouts
Bottlebrush Buckeye hybrid - Aesculus parviflora v serotina 
Red Buckeye - Aesculus pavia - understory OK and Ark native

We bought our Red Buckeye from Marilyn Stewart at Wild Things Nursery in Seminole OK
It doesn't appear on the 2017 plant list however.

As usual with deciduous flowering shrubs, prune after bloom, fertilize late winter with light amount of fertilizer.

Don't confuse these with the Australian Bottlebrush plant. If your seller doesn't provide Aesculus in the identity, you might be getting one of the others. SF Gate wrote about the distinctions.







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