Ann McCulloh is the curator of plant collections at Cleveland Botanical Garden.


Bottlebrush Buckeye
by Ann McCulloh - posted 07/19/13

Aesculus parviflora flowers begin to open from the base of the 8- to 12-inch panicle, revealing reddish stamens.

Leaves turn a clear light yellow in October.

Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) is a shade-tolerant native American shrub with ornamental features all year round. Rather slow-growing at first, it produces classic deep green hand-shaped foliage the first couple of years after planting. The plant becomes quite broad and spreading. It will colonize by suckers in an ideal location. Unique, feathery white blossoms begin to appear in the plant’s third or fourth summer in July. These are followed by sparse, knobby fruits containing shiny brown “buckeyes.” The leaves turn a clear lemon yellow in autumn, really illuminating a shady corner. The evenly spaced silver branches resemble deer antlers in wintertime. Bottlebrush buckeye is not browsed by deer, and is relatively unaffected by pests and diseases.

Common Name: Bottlebrush buckeye

Botanical Name: Aesculus parviflora

Color: White flowers

Blooming Period: Midsummer

Type: Hardy deciduous shrub

Size: Slowly reaches 10 feet tall by 12 feet wide

Exposure: Part shade to shade

When to Plant: Transplant (as balled-and-burlapped or from container) in spring or fall

Soil: Moist, well-drained organic soil

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5

Watering: Once a week during establishment period, no extra water thereafter.

When to Prune: Winter to late winter

When to Fertilize: Not necessary

In Your Landscape: Specimen or massed border; lovely planted under a tall shade tree, at least 5 feet from the tree’s trunk

From Ohio Gardener Volume III Issue IV. Photos courtesy of Ann McCulloh.


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John Packard (Lake Geneva, WI.) - 07/20/2013

Bottlebrush Buckeye is slow growing but the size description is misleading (aren’t they all?).  I have seen cultivated Bottlebrush Buckeye here in Wisconsin, 100s of miles from its native haunts, 15’ tall and 30’ wide.

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