Aesculus octandra

Author Sammy Pickering
Common Names :
Yellow Buckeye
Sweet Buckeye
Big Buckeye
Higher Taxa:
Family: Hippocastanaceae
Genus: Aesculus
Species: octandra

IDENTIFICATION: Harrar and Harrar (1962) describe the species as follows, "A large tree, commonly 60 to 90 in height, with a trunk 2 to 3 in diameter, branches , some what pendulous, forming an oblong, rounded crown".
Leaves. opposite, deciduous, palmately compound, about 10 in diameter, with 5 to 7 leaflets; leaflets 4 to 6 long, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 wide; margin serrate; at maturity, dark green and glabrous above, dull below, with a few tufts of hair in axils of the larger veins.
Flowers- Polygamous, found in clusters about 5 long, yellow petals all unequal; individual flowers about 1 long.
For the indentification of this plant we used A Key to the Southern Buckeyes (Harrar and Harrar 1962), (pg 479).

Figure 1. A leaf of Aesculus octandra (leaf was collected by the author at the UGA Botanical Gardens and photographed by Amy Edwards).

GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION in the U.S.A: This species is found in the Appalachians from southeastern Pennsylvania, south through eastern Tennessee to northern Georgia and Alabama; also west through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana to southern Illinois. This species is the largest of the buckeyes, it is abundant in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Duncan and Duncan. (1988)

IMPORTANCE OF THE BUCKEYE FAMILY: This is a small family containing only 3 genera and about 25 species of trees and shrubs, widely distributed throughout the U.S., Mexico, Central America, India, eastern Asia and southern Europe. This family is not an important timber contributing group, although several of the species attain large size ( Harrar and Harrar1962). The largest of the buckeyes is the yellow buckeye A. octandra. The seeds of A. octandra are poisonous and young shoots are toxic to livestock (The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American trees 1988).


Duncan, Wilbur H., and Marion B. Duncan. Trees of the Southeastern United States. The University of Georgia press. Athens and London 1988.

The National Audobon Society collection. North American Trees. Bonanza Books. New York, 1984

Harrar, Ellwood S., and J. George Harrar. Guide to Southern Trees. Dover Publications, New York, 1962.