Sapindaceae (soapberry family) Aesculus

Aesculus octandra yellow buckeye


Yellow buckeyes from the Appalachians, relatives of the California buckeye and the European horse chestnut, gave summer shade for several years to a favorite sitting place, the Tanner fountain in front of the Hoover Tower. Spectacular spikes of yellow flowers in summer were followed by glossy brown nuts that fell in early winter and were nice to play with, but inedible. Not much known in California, yellow buckeye provides material for wooden legs and piano keys in the East.

Considerable boldness is needed on the part of a landscape architect in choosing specimens for a conspicuous location, especially for formal geometry where the demise of one individual tree is rather noticeable. That is what happened to the original Tanner fountain carobs (Ceratonia siliqua), which were replaced by yellow buckeyes when one or two carobs did not thrive. By the late 1980s the next replacement was sour gums (Nyssa sylvatica). By 2000, those had been replaced by ground cover (professionally much safer). Surviving buckeyes from the fountain were moved into the field just north of Frost Amphitheater, where they are not thriving. The Buckeye State is Ohio.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Family updated from Hippocastanaceae to Sapindaceae (Oct 2017, SP).