Sapindaceae (soapberry family) Aesculus

Aesculus pavia red buckeye

Southern & Eastern United States
Aesculus pavia inflorescence, leaves, trunk (on the right) at Governor’s Corner (now removed). Sairus Patel, 19 Apr 2020
Aesculus pavia leaves, inflorescence. John Rawlings, ca. 2005

Known as one parent of the popular red horse chestnut, red buckeye itself is uncommon. The only survivor on campus is a few yards northwest of the northwest corner of Littlefield Center (in the direction of Albers Wall) (map pin). Another specimen at the Guest Suites near the Elliott Program Center, Governor’s Corner, was removed around 2022.

In April and May the spikes of its distinguishing red tubular flowers are conspicuous. All conifers are wind-pollinated, as of old, but most flowering trees now depend on insects. Some still depend on wind, while others depend on mammals and birds. Red buckeye is believed to be pollinated by hummingbirds.

Illustrations: Buckeye Meadow, Oval Ear: A. californica & A. pavia blooming (John Rawlings, 3 May 2003).

Name derivation: Aesculus – the Latin name for a kind of oak bearing edible acorns but applied by Linnaeus to this genus; pavia – after Petrus Pavius, Dutch botanist, d. 1616. From California Plant Names.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings added the Elliott Program Center location ca. 2007. Family updated from Hippocastanaceae to Sapindaceae (Oct 2017, SP). All locations verified (Apr 2020, SP). Elliott location noted as removed; flowering months and other edits; all locations up to date (Feb 2023, SP).