Plant family: Hippocastanaceae -Horse/Chsnut
Plant type: Tree
Plant origin: N/A, California
Coastal Sage Scrub, Riparian
Clay, Sandy Loam, Adaptable, Serpentine
Attracts Wildlife, Exceptional Fragrance, Important to Native People, Tolerant of Clay Soil
A small deciduous tree with showy flowers. The Buckeye has an unusual adaptation to extreme climate during the hot rainless summer months by dropping its leaves mid-summer. Large, fragrant rosy flowers are sometimes still on the tree when this happens making a remarkable statement in the landscape. New foliage appears apple green in late winter and mature leaves are a rich green, giving way to some fall color. The large fruits of this tree are poisonous and slowly ripen and fall when it rains. They can be grown into small plants the way avocado seeds are grown in glass jars. These fruits are not dispersed by wind or birds but roll downhill, possibly into running water, which carries them to a new site. Indigenous americans threw seeds into ponds to stupefy fish which then rose to the surface and were easily caught. Interestingly, they would also grind the seeds, leach with boiling water, and use the flour as an emergency food source.
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