Bottlebrush Buckeye

Bottlebrush Buckeye (

Aesculus parviflora

) is one of those no-trouble shrubs that can make quite a statement. It excels in moist partial shade locations, where it will slowly colonize to create a butterfly and hummingbird summer nectar source. It is not, however, a

small

shrub. So if you're looking for a tidy little specimen, this is not it!

Bottlebrush Buckeye, like other buckeyes, has a compound leaf of 5 parts with serrated edges. Other, less botanically inclined individuals, have been known to mistake it for another plant with compound leaves (though typically 7 leaflets). Buckeye would, of course, be an excessively large version of said leaf...but you just never know what people may might try to grow smack dab in the middle of their residential property. Shoot, I've had a couple of people get really excited when they saw my

Vitex

. So, after seeing that a Buckeye fan in Tennessee got a little too much attention from law enforcement, I thought I'd better warn you that you should have a good botanical research text available... just in case. (Check

The Columbus Dispatch

in the Resources for the whole story.)

A. parviflora

tolerates deer and wind, and will hold its leaves longer than other buckeyes. The leaves turn a lovely golden yellow in fall, but it's the coarse texture and blossoms (8" to 12" long panicles, reputedly, though ours are pushing 18") that make this shrub a standout. When it is really happy, this buckeye can reach 15 feet tall, but is typically between six and twelve feet tall.

Acidic clay is not its happy place, though mine seems to be doing pretty well.

Aesculus parviflora

does like moist soil, but prefers a well-drained loamy sand if it can get it. Placing it under shade trees will give you a spectacular summer backdrop for other perennials that like moister conditions.

Both the fruits and leaves of this shrub are poisonous if eaten, so you may wish to avoid using this if you or your neighbors have small children who would be more susceptible to ill effects if they were to consume some part of the plant.

Bottlebrush Buckeye is a good shrub selection for the larger rain garden, along with Winterberry Holly (

Ilex verticillata

), Ninebark (

Physocarpus opulifolius

), Virginia Sweetspire (

Itea virginica

) and Summer Sweet (

Clethra alnifolia

). All of these selections are deciduous pollinator havens that produce fruits or seeds that are valuable to wildlife. Winterberry and ninebark both have terrific winter interest, as well--Winterberry maintaining its red berries well into late winter before being devoured by birds and ninebark for its exfoliating bark--which I have seen birds harvest in spring. Bottlebrush Buckeye, however, has the most dramatic blooms by far of these selections. Add a cluster for some drama!

Sources:

Wildflower.org

,

Missouri Botanical Garden

,

Holden Arboretum

,

Wikipedia

,

Horticulture magazine

,

Floridata

,

USDA Plants Database

,

Residential Rain Gardens

,

The Columbus Dispatch

,

Plants For A Future

If you would like to purchase a buckeye and can't find it locally, a good NC grower is Campbell Family Nursery in Harmony, NC. You can reach Kevin through his

blog

.

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Northern Flicker Family Time

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