Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

General: Buckeye Family (Hippocastanaceae). This native, deciduous shrub or tree reaches 12 m in height with a broad, rounded crown. The palmately compound leaves occur in leaflets of 5 to 7 and each leaflet is oblong-lanceolate and finely serrate. The inflorescence has many showy flowers in a panicle-like arrangement and it is erect, 1-2 dm. in length. Each individual flower has 4-5 petals and these are white to pale rose with 5-7 exserted stamens. The fruit is pear-shaped and smooth. The large, shiny light-brown seeds are 2-5 cm.

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Alternative names

Horse chesnut; Indian names: de-sa' ka-la' (Pomo); far'-sokt (Nomlaki); sympt'-ol (Yuki); ah'-te (Coast Miwok)

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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California buckeye is emdemic to California. It occurs in the the
Klamath and Coast Ranges from Siskiyou County County south to Los
Angeles County. In the Cascade Range and the foothills of the Sierra
Nevada, it occurs from from Shasta County south to Kern County.
California buckeye is occasionally found in the Central Valley in Yolo,
Colusa, and Stanislaus Counties [5].
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
7 Lower Basin and Range

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Occurrence in North America

CA

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A. californica occurs below 1200 m in elvation within the the Klamath and Coast Ranges from Siskiyou County south to Los Angeles County, and in the Cascade Range and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, it is found from from Shasta County south to Kern County. Less commonly it occurs in the Central Valley in Colusa, Yolo and Stanislaus Counties. California Buckeye is found in the following diverse vegetative associations: chaparral, montane chaparral, California mixed oak forest, California mixed evergreen forest, Ponderosa shrub forest, cypress forest, redwood forest, mixed conifer forest and silver fir/douglas fir forest. A. californica primarily occurs on sandy, sandy-loam, or gravelly-loam soils.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: shrub, tree

California buckeye is a large shrub or tree up to 23 feet (7 m) tall.
The 2-to 6-inch-long (5-15 cm) leaves are deciduous and palmately
compound [21]. Flowers are borne on a terminal panicle 4 to 8 inches
(10-20 cm) long. The pear-shaped, light brown fruit contains one to six
glossy brown seeds 0.8 to 1.2 inches (2-3 cm) in diameter [5,21].
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]
  • 21. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]

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Ecology

Habitat

Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: shrub, tree

California buckeye woodland is recognized as a distinct plant community
[13]. The species may also codominate oak (Quercus spp.) woodland.
Interior live oak (Q. wislizenii) and blue oak (Q. douglasii) are the
most common codominants of oak woodland [1,2,3,22,23]. In chaparral, it
is sometimes a dominant shrub or tree [2,4].

The following published classification schemes list California buckeye as a
climax species or a dominant part of the vegetation in community types
(cts) or plant associations (pas):

Area Classification Authority

CA: Coast Ranges mixed oak cts Allen & others 1991
w foothills
Sierra Nevada foothill woodland pas Thorne 1976
Klamath Mts. northern mixed Holland 1986
chaparral pas
Pinnacles
National
Monument Ca buckeye woodland cts Halverson & Clark
1986
  • 1. Allen, Barbara H.; Holzman, Barbara A.; Evett, Rand R. 1991. A classification system for California's hardwood rangelands. Hilgardia. 59(2): 1-45. [17371]
  • 2. Baker, Gail A.; Rundel, Philip W.; Parsons, David J. 1981. Ecological relationships of Quercus douglasii (Fagaceae) in the foothill zone of Sequoia National Park, California. Madrono. 28(1): 1-12. [6477]
  • 3. Baker, G. A.; Rundel, P. W.; Parsons, D. J. 1982. Comparative phenology and growth in three chaparral shrubs. Botanical Gazette. 143(1): 94-100. [6533]
  • 4. Barbour, Michael G. 1987. Community ecology and distribution of California hardwood forests and woodlands. In: Plumb, Timothy R.; Pillsbury, Norman H., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the symposium on multiple-use management of California's hardwood resources; 1986 November 12-14; San Luis Obispo, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-100. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 18-25. [5356]
  • 13. Halvorson, William L.; Clark, Ronilee A. 1989. Vegetation and floristics of Pinnacles National Monument. Tech. Rep. No. 34. Davis, CA: University of California at Davis, Institute of Ecology, Cooperative National Park Resources Study Unit. 113 p. [11883]
  • 22. Parsons, David J. 1981. The historical role of fire in the foothill communities of Sequoia National Park. Madrono. 28(3): 111-120. [13586]
  • 23. Ratliff, Raymond D.; Duncan, Don A.; Westfall, Stanley E. 1991. California oak-woodland overstory species affect herbage understory: management implications. Journal of Range Management. 44(4): 306-310. [16118]

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the term: shrub

K003 Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest
K005 Mixed conifer forest
K006 Redwood forest
K009 Pine - cypress forest
K010 Ponderosa shrub forest
K029 California mixed evergreen forest
K030 California oakwoods
K033 Chaparral
K034 Montane chaparral

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES27 Redwood
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub

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Habitat characteristics

California buckeye grows on dry slopes, in canyons, and along waterways
[5,21]. In the Central Valley it occurs along stream and river banks
[5,19]. It is associated with poison-oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)
in most communities in which it occurs [5,17].

Soil: California buckeye grows in sandy, sandy-loam, or gravelly-loam
soils [5].

Climate: California buckeye occurs in a Mediterranean climate with cool
moist winters and hot dry summers [5,15,18]. The mean annual rainfall
is less than 14 inches, and temperatures are in excess of 100 degrees
Fahrenheit (38 degrees C) for several successive days every summer [14].

Elevation: California buckeye occurs below 4,000 feet (1,219 m) [21].
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]
  • 14. Hedrick, Donald W. 1951. Studies on the succession and manipulation of chamise brushlands in California. College Station, TX: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College. 113 p. Dissertation. [8525]
  • 15. Holland, Robert F. 1986. Preliminary descriptions of the terrestrial natural communities of California. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Fish and Game. 156 p. [12756]
  • 17. Katibah, Edwin F.; Nedeff, Nicole E.; Dummer, Kevin J. 1984. Summary of riparian vegetation aerial and linear extent measurements from the Central Valley Riparian Mapping Project. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. California riparian systems: Ecology, conservation, and productive management: Proceedings of the conference; 1981 September 17-19; Davis, CA. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press: 46-50. [5824]
  • 18. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1976. Atlas of United States trees. Volume 3. Minor western hardwoods. Misc. Publ. 1314. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 13 p. 290 maps. [10430]
  • 19. Mirov, N. T.; Kraebel, C. J. 1937. Collecting and propagating the seeds of California wild plants. Res. Note No. 18. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, California Forest and Range Experiment Station. 27 p. [9787]
  • 21. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

229 Pacific Douglas-fir
231 Port-Orford-cedar
232 Redwood
234 Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir
245 Pacific ponderosa pine
246 California black oak
247 Jeffrey pine
248 Knobcone pine
249 Canyon live oak
250 Blue oak - Digger pine
255 California coast live oak

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Dispersal

Establishment

Adaptation: The California buckeye is one of the first shrubs to leaf out in spring and one of the earliest to shed its leaves in mid-summer. It is found on dry slopes, canyons and the borders of streams in many plant communities below 1700 m. in northwestern and central western California, Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada foothills, Tehachapi Mountains, Great Central Valley, and southwestern Mohave Desert.

General: Harvest the large seeds from the tree or shrub about November. Plant them in the ground immediately--half buried in an area of full sun or light shade. There is a light spot on the seed, which is the growing point when being formed. The radicle will sprout from this area so make sure that this spot is covered with soil. Plant the seeds in a well-drained soil. Water the soil immediately after planting, and if there is not enough rain during the rainy season, supplement it with hand watering. The plants will also need some summer watering the first year so a good rule to follow is to keep the soil damp. The tree is a fast grower and can achieve as much as ten inches in height in one year. After buckeye seeds have been in the ground one full year, they should become established, and will not need continual care.

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

Grazing considerations: California buckeye cannot be successfully
eliminated by prescribed burning. Fire will bring it under control if
the area is reburned every 7 to 8 years and immediately reseeded with
herbaceous vegetation [14]. Otherwise, California buckeye will recover
at the expense of more desirable herbaceous plants [14,25].
  • 14. Hedrick, Donald W. 1951. Studies on the succession and manipulation of chamise brushlands in California. College Station, TX: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College. 113 p. Dissertation. [8525]
  • 25. Sampson, Arthur W. 1944. Plant succession on burned chaparral lands in northern California. Bull. 65. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 144 p. [2050]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Fire top-kills California buckeye [25].
  • 25. Sampson, Arthur W. 1944. Plant succession on burned chaparral lands in northern California. Bull. 65. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 144 p. [2050]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: caudex, root crown, secondary colonizer

survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex
off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2
secondary colonizer; off-site seed carried to site after year 2

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Fire Ecology

More info for the term: root crown

Plant adaptations: California buckeye sprouts from the root crown after
aboveground portions of the plant have been damaged [5,28]. Seeds would
probably not survive fire because they are highly susceptible to
desiccation by heat [8]. Seed is often transported by water and could
be carried to a burn site in that manner [13].

Fire ecology: Early leaf fall results in accumulation of dry litter
around the plant early in the fire season.
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]
  • 8. Buckman, Robert E. 1964. Effects of prescribed burning on hazel in Minnesota. Ecology. 45(3): 626-629. [12204]
  • 13. Halvorson, William L.; Clark, Ronilee A. 1989. Vegetation and floristics of Pinnacles National Monument. Tech. Rep. No. 34. Davis, CA: University of California at Davis, Institute of Ecology, Cooperative National Park Resources Study Unit. 113 p. [11883]
  • 28. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, shrub

California buckeye exhibits both tolerant and intolerant
characteristics. It occurs as a widely scattered individuals in open
grasslands. It also occurs as an understory shrub in mixed evergreen
forest [3]. It is a climax indicator in chaparral and mixed oak
communities [1] and in California buckeye woodlands [8].
  • 1. Allen, Barbara H.; Holzman, Barbara A.; Evett, Rand R. 1991. A classification system for California's hardwood rangelands. Hilgardia. 59(2): 1-45. [17371]
  • 3. Baker, G. A.; Rundel, P. W.; Parsons, D. J. 1982. Comparative phenology and growth in three chaparral shrubs. Botanical Gazette. 143(1): 94-100. [6533]
  • 8. Buckman, Robert E. 1964. Effects of prescribed burning on hazel in Minnesota. Ecology. 45(3): 626-629. [12204]

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Regeneration Processes

Sexual: California buckeye reproduces by seed [5]. The average tree
produces approximately 100 seeds per year. Seed dispersal is poor and
is accomplished mainly by gravity or water; dispersal by animals is rare
[13]. Seeds are viable for only 1 year and are shed from November to
mid-February [24]. Germination occurs within several weeks of shedding
if the soil temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees C).
If the temperature persists below 40 degrees for 2 months or more the
seeds are susceptible to fungal infections or desiccation [12].
Germination success rates of 75 percent have been reported under
laboratory conditions [19].

Asexual: California buckeye can sprout from the stump or root crown
[3,28].
  • 3. Baker, G. A.; Rundel, P. W.; Parsons, D. J. 1982. Comparative phenology and growth in three chaparral shrubs. Botanical Gazette. 143(1): 94-100. [6533]
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]
  • 12. Gordon, Aaron; Sampson, Arthur W. 1939. Composition of common California foothill plants as a factor in range management. Bull. 627. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 95 p. [3864]
  • 13. Halvorson, William L.; Clark, Ronilee A. 1989. Vegetation and floristics of Pinnacles National Monument. Tech. Rep. No. 34. Davis, CA: University of California at Davis, Institute of Ecology, Cooperative National Park Resources Study Unit. 113 p. [11883]
  • 19. Mirov, N. T.; Kraebel, C. J. 1937. Collecting and propagating the seeds of California wild plants. Res. Note No. 18. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, California Forest and Range Experiment Station. 27 p. [9787]
  • 24. Rudolf, Paul O. 1974. Aesculus L. buckeye, horsechestnut. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 195-200. [7475]
  • 28. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

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More info for the term: phanerophyte

Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the terms: shrub, tree

Tree, Shrub

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Plant Response to Fire

Information regarding California buckeye's response to fire is limited.
Sampson [25] has said that sprouting chaparral brush species, including
California buckeye, recover rapidly following a fire, sending out new
shoots during the first growing season. Growth in subsequent seasons is
also rapid, with the plant sometimes exceeding its prefire mass within a
few years. Sprouting can occur within a few weeks following fire, even
in the summer months. Growth is supported by drawing on food and water
reserves in the fully developed root system [20].
  • 20. Mooney, H. A.; Hayes, R. I. 1973. Carbohydrate storage cycles in two Californian Mediterranean-climate trees. Flora. 162: 295-304. [10525]
  • 25. Sampson, Arthur W. 1944. Plant succession on burned chaparral lands in northern California. Bull. 65. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 144 p. [2050]

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

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California buckeye flowers from April to September [24]. New leaves
emerge from March to June while soil moisture is abundant [20]. The
leaves dry up and are shed in late spring or early summer in Sierra
Nevada foothill populations but may be retained through fall in coastal
populations when soil moisture remains available [5]. Fruits ripen from
September to October and are dropped from November to December [24].
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]
  • 20. Mooney, H. A.; Hayes, R. I. 1973. Carbohydrate storage cycles in two Californian Mediterranean-climate trees. Flora. 162: 295-304. [10525]
  • 24. Rudolf, Paul O. 1974. Aesculus L. buckeye, horsechestnut. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 195-200. [7475]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Aesculus californica

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Aesculus californica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Management

Management considerations

Grazing: California buckeye often considered undesirable on rangeland
because of its toxicity.

Apian considerations: Honeybees are the chief pollinators of California
buckeye, but the pollen and nectar are toxic to them [5,9,14]. Losses
of adult honeybees and their larvae due to poisoning can be severe [9].
Human beings have been poisoned by eating honey made from California
buckeye [18].

Control treatments: California buckeye is susceptible to spray or
injection/cut surface treatments of phenoxy herbicides and picloram
[7,14,27]. Hand or mechanical brush control is ineffective unless the
root crown is removed [25,28].
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]
  • 7. Bovey, Rodney W. 1977. Response of selected woody plants in the United States to herbicides. Agric. Handb. 493. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 101 p. [8899]
  • 9. Clark, Harold W. 1937. Association types in the North Coast Ranges of California. Ecology. 18: 214-230. [11187]
  • 14. Hedrick, Donald W. 1951. Studies on the succession and manipulation of chamise brushlands in California. College Station, TX: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College. 113 p. Dissertation. [8525]
  • 18. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1976. Atlas of United States trees. Volume 3. Minor western hardwoods. Misc. Publ. 1314. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 13 p. 290 maps. [10430]
  • 25. Sampson, Arthur W. 1944. Plant succession on burned chaparral lands in northern California. Bull. 65. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 144 p. [2050]
  • 27. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region.. 1973. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, environmental statement, final: the use of herbicides in vegetation management. Unpublished draft supplied by Steve Yurich, Regional Forester, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Region 1. [2380]
  • 28. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

These plant materials are readily available from commercial sources.

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When the shrub is mature, dead and dying branches can be lightly pruned if necessary.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

The cover value of California buckeye is poor from late spring through
late winter due to early leaf fall.

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Other uses and values

California buckeye is used as a landscaping ornamental [24].

The seeds of California buckeye served as a staple for California
Indians, who would mash the roasted seeds and then leach them to remove
the poison [5]. Native Americans also secured the seeds in streams and
other waterways in order to stupefy fish for easy capture [21].
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]
  • 21. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]
  • 24. Rudolf, Paul O. 1974. Aesculus L. buckeye, horsechestnut. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 195-200. [7475]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

California buckeye is valuable as a soil binder on stream or river banks
and on steep slopes [11,17,26]. Seed can be obtained by harvesting
native plants. Seed propagation methods have been detailed [20,24].
  • 11. Goldner, Bernard H. 1984. Riparian restoration efforts associated with structurally modified flood control channels. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. California riparian systems: Ecology, conservation, and productive management: Proceedings of the conference; 1981 September 17-19; Davis, CA. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press: 445-451. [5852]
  • 17. Katibah, Edwin F.; Nedeff, Nicole E.; Dummer, Kevin J. 1984. Summary of riparian vegetation aerial and linear extent measurements from the Central Valley Riparian Mapping Project. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. California riparian systems: Ecology, conservation, and productive management: Proceedings of the conference; 1981 September 17-19; Davis, CA. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press: 46-50. [5824]
  • 20. Mooney, H. A.; Hayes, R. I. 1973. Carbohydrate storage cycles in two Californian Mediterranean-climate trees. Flora. 162: 295-304. [10525]
  • 24. Rudolf, Paul O. 1974. Aesculus L. buckeye, horsechestnut. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 195-200. [7475]
  • 26. Stromberg, Laurence P.; Katibah, Edwin F. 1984. An application of the spatial-aggregation method to the description of riparian vegetation. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. California riparian systems: Ecology, conservation, and productive management: Proceedings of a conference; 1981 September 17-19; Davis, CA. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press: 347-355. [5839]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

California buckeye is toxic to all classes of livestock and wildlife.
The bark, leaves, stems, fruits, and seeds all contain glycosidal
compounds which cause haemolytic action on red blood cells and depress
the central nervous system when ingested. This species has been
implicated in inducing abortion in cattle [5,18].
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]
  • 18. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1976. Atlas of United States trees. Volume 3. Minor western hardwoods. Misc. Publ. 1314. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 13 p. 290 maps. [10430]

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Nutritional Value

The dry matter composition of California buckeye seeds is 80 percent
carbohydrate, 5 percent protein, 1 percent fat, 2 percent ash, 3 percent
fiber, and 9 percent miscellaneous [12]. Protein content of the leaves
and stems varies from 31 percent in April to 5 percent in October [6].
Carbohydrate content of leaves and stems varies from 50 percent in April
to 1 percent in October [20]. Since California buckeye is a systemic
poison, how much of this nutrition is actually metabolized by
seed-eating or browsing livestock and wildlife in unknown. (see
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife).
  • 6. Bissell, Harold D.; Strong, Helen. 1955. The crude protein variations in the browse diet of California deer. California Fish and Game. 41(2): 145-155. [10524]
  • 12. Gordon, Aaron; Sampson, Arthur W. 1939. Composition of common California foothill plants as a factor in range management. Bull. 627. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 95 p. [3864]
  • 20. Mooney, H. A.; Hayes, R. I. 1973. Carbohydrate storage cycles in two Californian Mediterranean-climate trees. Flora. 162: 295-304. [10525]

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Palatability

Despite its toxicity, California buckeye flowers, leaves, and shoots are
palatable to livestock and wildlife. Hedrick [14] has listed it among
the 20 chaparral browse plants most preferred by cattle and black-tailed
deer. The palatability of the seeds for black-tailed deer, rodents, and
Stellar's jay is fair to poor [5].
  • 5. Holmer, L.; Nitare, L.; Stenlid, J. 1994. Population structure and decay pattern of Phellinus tremulae in Populus tremula as determined by somatic incompatibility. Canadian Journal of Botany. 72: 1391-1396. [24510]
  • 14. Hedrick, Donald W. 1951. Studies on the succession and manipulation of chamise brushlands in California. College Station, TX: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College. 113 p. Dissertation. [8525]

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Wood Products Value

California buckeye is occasionally used for lumber and paper pulp [25].
  • 25. Sampson, Arthur W. 1944. Plant succession on burned chaparral lands in northern California. Bull. 65. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 144 p. [2050]

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Uses

Ethnobotanic: This tree had multiple cultural uses among California Indian tribes. Many indigenous groups utilized buckeye seeds for food, often when other plant food sources were scarce. These tribes included the Costanoan, Salinan, Kitanemuk, Serrano, Wappo, Sierra Miwok, Coast Miwok, Chumash, Kawaiisu, Northern Maidu among others. The Pomo ate the seeds even when other important food plants were plentiful. The seeds are poisonous to humans in the raw state. Thus, the nuts were cracked open with a rock, the shells removed, the seeds pounded into flour, and their toxic saponins removed in a lengthy leaching process. The meal was subsequently cooked and eaten. There are many different methods for processing and cooking buckeye seeds for food, depending upon the tribe. The seeds have medicinal properties and were cut into pieces, mixed with water, and made into suppositories for hemorrhoids by the Costanoan and Kawaiisu. The Pomo cut bark from the base of the tree and made a poultice, which was laid on a snakebite. Young buckeye shoots were sometimes used as spindles or twirling sticks in fire-making kits of the Sierra Miwok, Northern Maidu, Wappo, Yahi and other tribes. Many tribes mashed buckeye nuts and poured the contents into quiet pools to stupefy or kill fish.

Wildlife: Do not plant buckeyes near apiaries as the flowers are poisonous to honey bees. No wildlife eat buckeye seeds except squirrels, such as the California ground squirrel (Citellus beecheyi).

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Aesculus californica

Aesculus californica, California buckeye or California horse-chestnut, is a species of buckeye native to California and southwestern Oregon.

Description[edit]

It is a large shrub or small tree, up to 4–12 m (13–39 ft) tall, with gray bark often coated with lichens and mosses. It typically is multi-trunked, with a crown as broad as it is high. Trees are long lived, with an estimated lifespan between 250-280 (300 maximum) years. The leaves are dark green, palmately compound with five (rarely seven) leaflets. Each leaflet is 6–17 cm (2.4–6.7 in) long, with a finely toothed margin and (particularly in spring) downy surfaces. The leaves are tender and prone to damage from both spring freezing or snow and summer heat and desiccation.

The flowers are sweet-scented, white to pale pink, borne on erect panicles 15–20 cm (6–8 in) long and 5–8 cm (2–3 in) broad. The fruit is a fig-shaped capsule 5–8 cm (2–3 in) long, containing a large (2–5 cm (0.8–2.0 in)), round, orange-brown seed; the seeds are poisonous.

A. californica has adapted to its native Mediterranean climate by growing during the wet late winter and spring months and entering dormancy in the dry summer months, though those growing in coastal regions tend to hold on to their leaves until mid-autumn.[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Flower spike of the California Buckeye

A. californica is widely distributed in California, growing along the central coast and in the lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range. Its range extends to the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains in the Rogue Valley in Oregon.

It is found growing in a wide range of conditions from crowded, moist, semi-shaded canyon bottoms to dry south-facing slopes and hilltops. In the coastal ranges north of Big Sur it is found growing alone on slopes, or intermingled with valley oak (Quercus lobata), Oregon oak (Q. garryana), coast live oak (Q. agrifolia) and California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica). In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, A. californica can be found standing alone in grassland at the lowest elevations, intermingled in blue oak woodlands at intermediate elevations, and in mixed evergreen forests of black oak (Q. kelloggii), gray pine (Pinus sabiniana), ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa) and interior live oak (Q. wislizeni) as it nears the limit of its range.

Toxicity and uses[edit]

Seed of the California Buckeye in its husk

Local native American tribes, including the Pomo, Yokut, and Luiseño, used the poisonous nuts to stupefy schools of fish in small streams to make them easier to catch.[2] The bark, leaves, and fruits contain the neurotoxic glycoside aesculin, which causes hemolysis of red blood cells. Buckeye also makes a good fireboard for bowdrill or hand drill.

Native groups occasionally used the nuts as a food supply when the acorn supply was sparse; after boiling and leaching the toxin out of the nut meats for several days, they could be ground into a meal similar to that made from acorns. The nectar of the flowers is toxic to the Asian/European honeybee, so the trees should not be planted near apiaries.[3] When the shoots are small and leaves are new, they are lower in toxins and are grazed by livestock and wildlife.[4] The flowers are a rich nectar source for many species of butterflies.[5]

It is used as an ornamental plant for its striking leaf buds, lime green foliage, fragrant white flowers, red-brown foliage in mid to late summer, and architectural silver branches through fall.

The tree acts as a soil binder, which prevents erosion in hilly regions.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Elna S. Bakker (1984). An island called California: an ecological introduction to its natural communities. University of California Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-520-04948-2. Retrieved 2011-06-11. 
  2. ^ Philip Alexander Munz, David D. Keck (1973). A California Flora. University of California Press. p. 994. ISBN 978-0-520-02405-2. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  3. ^ Kat Anderson, Wayne Roderick. California Buckeye, in the USDA NRCS Plant Guide (Report). USDA. http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_aeca.pdf. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
  4. ^ Howard, Janet L.. Aesculus californica, in the USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System (Report). USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/aescal/all.html. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
  5. ^ Kevin Hintsa. Watching Butterflies on Mount Diablo (Report). http://www.mdia.org/Wildlife/wbutterfly.htm. Retrieved 2011-11-07.

Resources[edit]

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Source: Wikipedia

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Common Names

California buckeye
buckeye
horsechestnut

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The currently accepted scientific name of California buckeye is Aesculus
californica (Spach) Nutt. [18,21]. There are no recognized subspecies,
varieties, or forms.
  • 18. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1976. Atlas of United States trees. Volume 3. Minor western hardwoods. Misc. Publ. 1314. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 13 p. 290 maps. [10430]
  • 21. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]

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Synonyms

Calothyrsus californica

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