Friday, October 15, 2010

The Yellow Buckeye

Along with the sycamore and green ash, the yellow buckeye Aeseulus octandra is one of the most commonly encountered trees in the bottomlands and riparian corridors of the Captina watershed. Extreme eastern Ohio and the northern panhandle of West Virginia represent the northern-most extent of this species range. Not to be confused with the more popular Ohio buckeye Aesculus glabra of central and western Ohio, the yellow buckeye has a larger nut, a smooth outer husk and in general is taller canopy tree. Yellow buckeyes are usually the first trees to sprout leaves in early spring and the first to lose them in fall.   
*Note:  Buckeye nuts have been known to be slightly poisonous becuse of elevated levels of tannic acid and should not be consumed by humans so keep them out of your mouth and around your neck on gameday ; )

Despite the late summer drought conditions have been great for
a bumper crop of yellow buckeyes.  Certain areas can have several
dozen nuts under one tree.  The nuts can be as large as 2 inches
in diameter but tend to shrink as they dry when broken out of their

Yellow buckeye trees next to Captina Creek.  Note the branches
that are bent toward the ground and the fact these trees
have no leaves left even when others in the forest have yet to
change color.

Yellow buckeye husks are smooth on the outside and can contain
up to five nuts.  The entire structure can be as large as an orange
while ripening in the tree before falling to the ground.

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