Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, fertile soils. Foliage tends to scorch and generally depreciate in dry conditions. This is a taprooted tree that once established is very difficult to transplant.
Native Americans reportedly called the fruit of this tree “hetuck” meaning eye-of-the-buck in reference to the supposed resemblance of the shiny dark mahogany brown fruit to the eye of a buck deer. The common name of buckeye evolved therefrom. Ohio buckeye is native from western Pennsylvania to Iowa south to Alabama and Arkansas. This is a low-branched, small to medium sized deciduous tree that typically grows 20-40’ (less frequently to 75’) tall with a broad oval-rounded crown. Bright green palmate compound leaves emerge in spring, each with five spreading ovate-oblong leaflets to 3-6” long. Leaves mature to dark green in summer. Fall color is usually yellow, although foliage may develop interesting and attractive shades of orange and red in some years. Greenish-yellow flowers (to 1” long) appear in clusters in mid-spring (late April-May in St. Louis). Flowers are followed by the familiar fruit, which is a globular dehiscent capsule consisting of 1-2 buckeyes encased by a leathery light brown partitioned husk covered with warty spines. Fruit on the tree is interesting but not particularly ornamental. When ripe, each buckeye turns a handsome shiny dark mahogany brown with a light tan eye. Since colonial times, buckeyes have been carried by many school children and adults as good luck charms. Ohio is known as the Buckeye State and has adopted the buckeye as its State Tree. All parts of this tree, particularly the flowers, bark and twigs, emit an unpleasant odor when bruised, hence the sometimes common name of fetid buckeye.
Leaf blotch can be a significant problem. Powdery mildew and anthracnose are also frequent problems. Watch for bagworms, Japanese beetles and borers. Leaf scorch (brown edges) may occur in droughty conditions or on sites exposed to wind.
Not recommended as a street tree or for use near homes because of the litter produced (particularly twigs, fruit and falling leaves). A good selection for more remote areas of the landscape including native plant and woodland areas.