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RE: Help with mystery nut - part 1
  • Subject: RE: Help with mystery nut - part 1
  • From: David Ferguson <manzano57@msn.com>
  • Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2012 17:38:34 -0700


The cultivar in the photos looks to me like 'Ft. McNair', but I could be wrong.
There are several cultivars of this Buckeye hybrid, and the colors vary from nearly white to bright red.  Along with the white flowering Asian Horsechesnut (A. hippocastanea), these hybrids are the most commonly cultivated tree species of Aesculus.  The California Buckeye is rarely cultivated outside of California, is usually a small tree, and has white flowers.  Aesculus pavia and A. sylvatica have a shrubby growth form and are often grown for their flowers in shades of red, pink, or yellow.  A. parviflora - Bottlebrush Buckeye - is also shrubby, and is fairly commonly grown for it's very showy dense heads of white flowers.  There are several other native North American species of Aesculus, and their flowers vary in color, mostly in the white to yellowish range, though most of them are not as showy as the ones mentioned alr! eady above.  All Aesculus species have large poisonous shiny brown to black seeds, but the seeds are only dangerous if ingested, and then I suspect only if chewed up (they are rather large to swallow whole though).  The names "Buckeye" and "Horsechestnut" are both used almost interchangeably for plants in this genus, though American species are mostly called "Buckeye" and Eurasian species more often "Horse Chestnut".  The name distinction is artificial, as they are all closely related, similar, and in the same genus.
"Hippocastanea" means horse chestnut.
Aesculus is in the Soaptree family - Sapindaceae, though sometimes they are put in their own family the Hippacastanaceae (which is now treated usually as the "subfamily Hippocastanoideae" within the Sapindaceae, and which now includes also the Maples - genus Acer [of the former family Aceraceae]).
The true Chestnuts are not related, and are in the Bee! ch Family (Fagaceae) along with Oaks (which bear acorns). ! ; They can always be distinguished easily by the non-compound leaves (Aesculus leaves are palmately compound).  The trees and their flowers and fruits of Buckeyes and Chestnuts really don't look all that much alike, except that the seeds of both genera are quite large.
Another small tree with similar large black seeds (??? poisonous) and pink Redbud-like flowers produced in early spring, is Ungnadia speciosa - the Mexican Buckeye.  It is also in the family Sapindaceae, but in a different subfamily from Aesculus.  It does have leaves rather like those of Aesculus, but more delicate.  Ungnadia speciosa is a shrub or small tree that it is commonly grown in gardens in the Southwest.  It is interesting that it can flower when still a tiny seedling, as long as it has gone through at least one dormancy period.
Dave Ferguson

To: iris-photos@yahoogroups.com
From: jimmurrain@gmail.com
Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2012 01:06:41 -0600
Subject: Re: [iris-photos] Help with mystery nut - part 1

    You were on the right track but the photos show a hybrid, Aesculus pavia (red buckeye) x Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut). The cultivar is either 'Briotii' or 'Fort McNair'. They are similar and somewhat confused in cultivation. There are good specimens at the Linda Hall Science Library in Kansas City. I know they are not edible but not sure if they are poisonous or just bad tasting. Sometimes these are called 'Red Horse Chestnuts'. The sweet chestnut has fingers of tiny white flowers that stink to high heaven.


On Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 6:15 PM, Pat <Pat.Creighton@shaw.ca> wrote:

Aesculus pavia - buckeye
Aesculus hippocastanum - horse chestnut

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