Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Yellow Buckeye - Aesculus flava   Solander
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Section 6 » Order Sapindales » Family Hippocastanaceae
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AuthorSolander
DistributionThroughout the Mountains. Sparingly in the Piedmont foothills, essentially only along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. Not present downstate, unless a collection from Forsyth County is correct.

This is a species of the central and southern Appalachians, ranging north to PA and southern IN and south to northern GA and northeastern AL.
AbundanceCommon and widespread, at a great range of elevations, though most numerous in middle elevations.
HabitatThis is one of the most, if not the most, characteristic tree species of rich cove forests. It occurs on moist, cool slopes, along streams, and on higher slopes (as long as the microclimate is cool and moist) up to nearly 6000 feet elevation. Where it grows, there is usually an excellent array of spring wildflowers.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Montane Hardwood Forests
PhenologyBlooms from late April to mid-June, and fruits in August and September.
IdentificationAlong with the Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), this is arguably the largest tree of cove forests, often reaching 90-100 feet tall or taller. This deciduous tree should be easily known to anyone who spends any time outdoors in the mountains. The leaves consist of five palmate leaflets, each leaflet being elliptic to oblanceolate and about 4 inches long. No other medium to tall NC tree has five palmate leaflets. The yellow to yellow-green flowers, conspicuous in spring, are quite large for a tree; they are in terminal panicles, with each tubular flower about 1-inch long. The fruit, often not seen, is a smooth and rounded capsule about 2-2.5 inches across. One could only confuse this species in NC with the Painted Buckeye (A. sylvatica), though that species is found in lower elevations in the Piedmont and is a small tree or large shrub.
Taxonomic CommentsOlder references, such as RAB (1968), named this species as A. octandra. Some newer references might still use that name, but most use A. flava.

Other Common Name(s)Common Buckeye, Sweet Buckeye
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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