Yellow buckeye trees are not as common as the Horse Chestnut across Exeter, but quite similar. They are also know as Sweet buckeye or Common buckeye. They are native to to the Ohio Valley and Appalachian Mountains of the Eastern United States and were introduced into the UK in the mid 1700's. In the UK they are planted as an ornamental tree and are a welcome sight in any park or green space. The flowers are a creamy yellow with a tinge of red and are in full flower during May. During the Autumn it can drop a lot of large sized leaves as well as the hard round cases which can lead to blocked drains as well as quite a bit of mess. For this reason it is not very well suited as a street tree or in paved areas. There is a small specimen in the St Thomas Pleaure Grounds near the front of the main entrance.
Yellow buckeye can grow to a height of around 30 metres so requires a good amount of space. In the wild they can happily life for around 300 years, but like most park trees it will be much less. The bark is smooth and light grey when young, which darkens and develops scaly plates with age. The twigs are hairless and stout and have many orange lenticles. The buds are non-sticky and covered with smooth overlapping scales. The buds are some of the biggest you'll ever come across - making them a great species to start with for study.
The bark is Smooth, light greyish brown developing to large flat scales and plates as it matures
The buds are very large but not quite as sticky as the standard Horse chestnut
The leaves tend to be tidier and less prone to leaf blotches and miners than the standard Horse chestnut. The palmately compound leaves are 9 to 15 inches long with 5 to 7 oval pointed leaflets that are 4 to 6 inches long and 1-3 inches wide. The stem is as long as the leaflet. During the Autumn they turn a mix of yellow and orange and brown and quickly transform the ground.
Even when they are very young they stand out
The creamy yellow flowers are typically in full bloom in May
The flowers usually appear in May. The Individual flowers are yellow to red in color with 4 petals, stamens shorter than the petals, styles longer than the petals and curving upward. They have erect panicles up to 7 inches long and 3 inches wide. In the UK they are pollinated by insects such as bees but in their native country they are also pollinated by hummingbirds. The flowers are hermaphrodite which means both the male and female parts are contained with the same flower.
The leaves of Yellow buckeye are 5–7 pointed, toothed leaflets spreading from a central stem
The capsule is leathery and smooth to the touch. Inside are usually 1 to 3 shiny nuts
Unlike the Horse Chestnut which makes the inconic spiky conkers the Yellow buckeye makes smooth and leathery capsules. They are usually in small clusters of 1 to 3 at the end of a terminal stalk. Within the capsule will be 1 to 3 shiny, dark brown nuts. They resemble 'Buck eye's which is where the tree gets it's common name from. The fruit of this tree is toxic to most animals including humans.